x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Aim is to have a continuous season, says Pro League committee chairman

The Etisalat Cup will stay, the last day of the season will be May 15 and there will be less breaks, says Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi

Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, vice-chairman and head of the Pro-League Committee, wants to minimise the number of breaks.
Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, vice-chairman and head of the Pro-League Committee, wants to minimise the number of breaks.

DUBAI // Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, the new chairman of the Pro League Committee, has promised fewer breaks when the new season starts with the Super Cup on September 15.

Al Ain, the Pro League champions, and Al Jazira, the President's Cup winners, will meet in the Super Cup to launch a season which will see 14 teams compete in the top division.

But before then there will be play-offs involving Emirates, Sharjah, Al Shaab and Al Dhafra to decide the two teams who will join the other 12 in the Pro League.

The second match day of the season has been fixed as September 21, but Al Rumaithi said a decision on whether to start with the Pro League or the Etisalat Cup will be taken next week at the executive committee meeting, where the schedule for the next season will be presented.

"Our aim is to have a continuous season," said Al Rumaithi, after chairing his first meeting of the Pro League football companies yesterday. "The last season was good, but most of the clubs were not happy about the long breaks.

"I believe we had breaks amounting to three months and 21 days. So our aim this season is to cooperate with the Football Association and make sure we minimise all those breaks."

Al Rumaithi also said they are targeting a May 15 finish to the season and insisted there are no plans to shelve the Etisalat Cup.

"There will be stops and we cannot not have any football during those periods," he said. "Having 14 teams or the Etisalat Cup does make our season long; stopping for almost four months makes the season long.

"If you go to the Premier League, how many games do they play? Maybe 68, 69 or 71 if you include competitions like the Uefa Cup or the Champions League.

"The maximum number of matches we will play in the next season, by my calculations, is 43. That is not a lot, but we need to organise it well."

Al Rumaithi also brushed aside concerns about the weather in early September when the play-offs for the two Pro League spots are expected to be played.

"We are from this country and we are used to this weather," he said. "It will be tough, without a doubt. But even if we start on September 15, there will not be much of a difference, maybe the weather will be cooler by a degree.

"Till the mid of October, the weather will be the same. So I don't think it will be an issue."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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