x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UAE FA promises clubs things will be back to normal

Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain Hussain heads new five-man committee which will look at clubs' spending and reveal the league's new name soon.

Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain says he will try and build on the positives of the Pro League while addressing certain other issues.
Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain says he will try and build on the positives of the Pro League while addressing certain other issues.

The Football Association yesterday promised the country's professional clubs that things were back to normal after two days of confusion and uncertainty.

Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, who was yesterday named as the chairman of the five-man committee now running the league, insisted there would be "no changes" after the Government's decision to dissolve the three-year old UAE Football League (UFL) on Sunday.

He was adamant the professional game would continue to move forward despite the different set-up. This was welcome news to the clubs who were left stunned by this week's events.

Saleem bin Suroor Al Shamsi, a leading director of the FA, said the league's refusal to change its name back to the League of Pro Football Clubs was the core of the problem. He said he was certain the league's future remained secure.

Since the moment Ibrahim Abdul Malik, the Secretary General of the General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare, revoked the UFL's licence and handed control to the FA, clubs were left guessing to what the future held and what form the new league would take.

Hussain, who is vice president of the FA, said: "Everything is going to remain the same. There will be no changes, nothing at all. The [league] staff will remain. They are the main people, the operations people. We, as the new board, are there to support the day-to-day activities of the league."

He is joined on the committee by Abdulla Al Junaibi, who will act as vice-chairman, and Mohammed Saeed Al Nuaimi, both of whom worked for the league in its former guise. The other two members are Khaled Abdulkarim and Khaled Mohammed Abdullah of the FA.

One of the reasons given on Monday as being behind the decision to dissolve the UFL was the assessment by the FA and the Government that the league had done little to enhance the national team's progress.

But Al Shamsi said: "There was an agreement between the FA and authorities regarding the name of the league and they [the UFL] had three years to change it. They did not and that is the main reason why all of this has happened.

"The sporting authorities in the UAE said many times over three years that the league had to change its name back to what we agreed. All the contracts ... were signed under this league name and we did not approve this.

"The league kept telling us that they were separate from the FA, and that was disappointing. So now the FA will run the league, but everything is fine and will be back to normal."

The clubs' chief executive officers held a pre-planned meeting in Dubai to review the season yesterday, but the latest developments were hardly mentioned.

"We couldn't discuss anything because nobody knows what is happening," one official said.

The UFL's General Assembly meeting is expected go ahead on Saturday in Dubai.

What needs resolving, according to the clubs, is whether they can sign three foreign players plus one from Asia so they can adjust their budgets accordingly; what size the league is going to be - 12 or 14 teams; and whether the season will start on time in September.

When asked about the direction of the league, Hussain said: "I have just taken over the Pro League chairmanship and, before I say anything, I have to see what the plans are. I am not aware of the plans that were made by the earlier board.

"So I will sit with the staff and see what has to be done. Then we have to put things into a schedule and move forward in the best way."

He said "things have been progressing well with the Pro League" but certain issues needed to be addressed.

"We will try to build on the positives and rectify any pending matters. I am very optimistic.

"I say it very loud and clear that the FA is the governing body of football and anything that has to do with football in the UAE has to come under the umbrella of the FA."

Hussain said there would be closer scrutiny of clubs' spending, which has spiralled over the past three years.

"The companies are a private entity, so we cannot interfere directly into their working," he said. "What I would like is for them to look into other sources of income and not lean back on what is coming from the Government.

"The expenses have to be looked at in a prudent way and they should think about ways of increasing their sources of income."

He said the name the league will operate under will be revealed over the next few days.

sports@thenational.ae