J.League to Start New Season in August from 2026

The Yomiuri Shimbun
J.League Chairman Yoshikazu Nonomura speaks at a press conference in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

Starting from the 2026-27 season, the J.League will kick off its season around the first week of August to put it in alignment with the major European leagues, Japan’s top professional league decided on Tuesday.

“We’ve been discussing changes we can make to the league so we can compete globally,” J.League Chairman Yoshikazu Nonomura said at a press conference that day.

“Each club has its own particular circumstances and regional characteristics, but we’re now united on what should be done for Japanese soccer and the J.League.”

The shift in the start to an August-May schedule was unanimously decided at the league’s board of directors meeting in Tokyo earlier Tuesday. According to the league, the 2024 and 2025 seasons will follow the current schedule of starting in late February and finishing in December.

The league will consider the format of domestic tournaments during the half-year or so of the transitional period leading up to the summer of 2026.

Under the new schedule, a winter break will be implemented for about two months from mid-December.

The J.League indicated it will set up a ¥10 billion fund to compensate clubs for expenses incurred due to the revamped schedule, such as making fields playable in snowy regions during the winter.

The league plans to consult with the Japan Football Association and other organizations with regard to the preparing necessary facilities.