Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli players vie for the ball during a match. File
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
The UAE Pro League has confirmed Sept.3 as the kick-off date for the new football season in the country on Thursday, Gulf Today can confirm the report.
The Arabian Gulf Cup will set the ball rolling on Sept.3, to be followed by the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) in the following week on Sept.9, it was informed by the UAE Pro League on Thursday.
The announcement came following a series of meetings between UAE Pro League, the UAE Football Association (UAEFA), professional clubs, stake holders and broadcasters.
UAE Pro League board member and head of Technical Committee Hassan Taleb Al Marri praised all stakeholders for their cooperation throughout the discussions.
“In setting the calendar, we were keen to have matches scheduled on weekends to ensure maximum levels of viewership and ttendances,” said Marri.
The new calendar was designed, keeping in view the World Cup qualifiers and AFC Champions League matches.
“The calendar also took into consideration preparing players for national team duty by playing three matchweeks in the league ahead of the joint qualifiers in October 2020, and also scheduled two match weeks in September prior to the AFC Champions League resumption to help our clubs prepare for the competition,” informed Marri.
“We are always striving to have a uniform schedule that serves the best interests of our national teams and clubs. We look forward to a successful season, be it technically or in terms of media, marketing and attendances, and with everyone’s efforts, we can deliver that,” he concluded.
Earlier, the last season of the AGL was abandoned in mid-March due to coronavirus with seven rounds to spare. The cancellation of the league prompted the decision to suspend the relegation, promotion and crowning a new champion for the 2019-20 season.
The last three teams in the standings at the end of the season are relegated to the first division every year.
When the league was stopped Khorfakkan, Hatta and Fujairah were in the drop zone Khorfakkan were on 12th spot in the standing followed byHatta and Fujairah in 13th and 14th places respectively.
While on the top of the standings, Shabab Al Ahli were leading the pack with 43 points followed by Al Ain in second and Al Jazira in third with 37 and 36 points respectively.
Battle for the ACL had already heated up with just two points separating four teams. However, it was already decided earlier, if the league is not completed ACL berths would be decided according to last season’s standings.
Various reasons were cited by the Pro League, which prompted the decision to abort the tournament such as health and safety of the players and to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed hailed the significant win of the UAE Arabian Gulf League 2020-2021 by the Al Jazira's Club, commending the impressive performance of the players and administrative and coaching staff throughout the season.
Football competitions, including the Arabian Gulf League and the First Division, had been suspended indefinitely from March 15 as the UAE government imposed restrictions across the country to curb the spread of the virus outbreak.
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