Sagan Tosu was founded in 1997, just two years before the creation of the J.League second division, as a completely grassroots organisation. Even if they are not former "company teams", most J.League clubs have at least a few corporate shareholders. Sagan, however, was established by 5000 local soccer fans living in the Tosu area of Saga prefecture, in northwestern Kyushu. It was created specifically with the aim of bringing J.League football to the area, and though it now has a fairly solid lineup of corporate backers, for the first few years it struggled to stay afloat.
The amateurish nature of the team in it formative years can be seen in the name they selected. They took their city's mailing address (Tosu, Saga) added an "n" to the name of the prefecture, and reversed the two words. "Sagan Tosu". How inventive! Though it started out with little in the way of financial backing, it did manage to attract some corporate sponsors in its first few years, including Nike and Coca-Cola. This support facilitated the team's inclusion in the J2, when the second division was formed.
The team selecting a magpie as its mascot, and took up residence in a beautiful, football-only facility right next door to a major train station. It may still be a relatively small organization, but Sagan has all the elements of a solid, potentially competitive football club.