x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Professional League committee approves three-plus-one rule

The interim Professional League also decides to reduce number of registered players with clubs to be reduced from 50 to 39.

Fabio Cannavaro could well be welcoming an Asian member to the Al Ahli squad as the fourth foreign footballer in the new three-plus-one rule adopted by the league's interim committee.
Fabio Cannavaro could well be welcoming an Asian member to the Al Ahli squad as the fourth foreign footballer in the new three-plus-one rule adopted by the league's interim committee.

The interim Professional League committee has given its seal of approval to the three-plus-one quota on foreign professionals for the new season.

Meeting for the first time yesterday under the chairmanship of Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, the committee also decided to accept another recommendation made at a workshop of football clubs earlier this month, which would reduce the number of registered players with clubs from 50 to 39.

The committee has, however, decided against increasing the number of teams in the Pro League to 14 from the current 12, and promised to make sure the league will not be hampered by the kind of stoppages seen last season.

"We have agreed to the three-plus-one [quota for foreign professionals], with all four being allowed on the pitch," said Hussain, who is also a vice-president of the UAE Football Association.

"We also spoke about the number of players registered and we have decided on 35. This is excluding the four foreigners. So total will be 39.

There will just one list and it will be up to the teams to decide which players play in the Pro league and which in the reserve league. The changes have been approved and will be implemented in the next season."

The draw for the Pro League will made on July 6 and the next season will see two match-days every round, instead of the three used last season.

"Another important issue that we agreed upon for next season is that we will have two match days for each round," said Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, one of the five members of the interim committee who has been given the job of official spokesman.

"We have been learning from the first season until today. There were a few negatives that we noticed last season, especially the stops in the league. We will try to make sure we don't have so many stoppages.

"There are some other minor issues, but we are on a learning process and I believe this curve is going up."

The interim committee was appointed on Tuesday by the UAEFA after the UFL, which managed the Pro League in the first three seasons, was disbanded by the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare "due to a violation over its official name".

Hussain said the committee had discussed the re-naming issue and will be making an announcement in the coming days.

"It is not a big thing," he said. "It will not affect our work in anyway. It will take some time, but we are not in such a hurry.

"There will some modifications done [to the logo], since it still carries the UFL name. So that will have to be changed, but I don't think there will be a big change in that.

"We will sort it out soon and an announcement will be made in due course."

Khalid Al Fahim, who has been given the portfolio of marketing in the interim committee, said the re-branding of the Pro League will not affect existing deals with sponsors.

"I don't think we will face any legal problems with the sponsors," he said. "Our relationship with the sponsors is good and we will honour all the agreements signed by the previous body."

Addressing fears that the dissolution of the UFL could adversely affect the Pro League's march towards professionalism, Hussain called on the clubs and fans to show a bit more optimism.

"I see no reasons for this pessimism," he said. "Having two bodies running football was causing a lot of problems. Now we will work together with the UAEFA to build on the positives of the last three years."

Al Junaibi also brushed aside these concerns and said: "When we speak about changing, we are just changing the way things worked at a legal level. However, if we are talking about the organisation of matches itself, it will remain the same if not better.

"We will try to improve what we have and make sure there are no stoppages. Sometimes, we might hold the stick from the middle. We cannot stop the league because of one team or two, however, we might postpone the matches of teams that would be affected."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae