x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pro League Committee names Al Areefi as new chief executive

League underwent several momentous changes during Smith's tenure

Colin Smith has resigned as chief executive of the UAE Pro League Committee. Courtesy Pro League Committee
Colin Smith has resigned as chief executive of the UAE Pro League Committee. Courtesy Pro League Committee

DUBAI // Suhail Al Areefi has been appointed chief executive of the Pro League Committee (PLC), the organising body of the Arabian Gulf League, following the resignation of Colin Smith.

Smith departs his role shortly before the conclusion of his second season with the PLC, having replaced Dr Khalid Mohammed Abdullah in the summer of 2012.

During Smith’s tenure, the league underwent significant changes, the most obvious being its name – it had previously been called the Pro League, marking the beginning of its professional era in 2008.

The re-branded Arabian Gulf Cup and Arabian Gulf Super Cup, and the division’s Reserve League, all fell under Smith’s remit. Upon his installation as chief executive, the Northern Irishman sought to increase attendances and to enhance the league’s appeal not only to fans – in particular the expatriate community – but media, broadcasters and sponsors.

Smith oversaw the introduction of the league’s first pay-per-view initiative, which went into effect during the third round of the current season. For the first time, two matches each round have been broadcast solely on encrypted channels.

A fantasy football platform also went into effect on Smith’s watch, as did a revamped website with more information than was available in the past, part of his emphasis on increasing the PLC’s social media presence.

However, a curiosity from his tenure saw the league stop making public match-day attendances. No explanation was given.

His successor, Al Areefi, has been promoted from his role as deputy chief executive. Al Areefi becomes the PLC’s fifth chief executive since its formation, ahead of the 2008/09 season, with Romy Gai, Carlo Nohra and Dr Abdullah holding the position before Smith.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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