x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE Pro League set to increase number of teams

FA recommendation to expand the league from 12 teams to 14 criterion laid out by AFC for league to be deemed of top quality.

Teams such as Sharjah, in white, will benefit from the expansion of the Pro League. Pawan Singh / The National
Teams such as Sharjah, in white, will benefit from the expansion of the Pro League. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // Sharjah and Emirates are likely to survive relegation after the Football Association (FA) recommended that the Pro League – under the directives of the chairman Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed – increase the number of teams from 12 to 14 from next season.

A resolution, though, will need to be passed after Sunday's executive committee meeting, a spokesman of the FA said yesterday.

Yousuf Al Serkal, the FA president who was unanimously elected for a second term in office last month, had earlier mooted the idea of 14 teams from the beginning of his campaign. Al Serkal's reasoning behind the idea was that it would provide more matches and more playing opportunities and therefore room to improve the overall quality of the clubs and the players.

An increase in the number of teams is also one of the criteria laid out by the Asian Football Confederation for it to deem a league of top division quality.

While clubs such as Sharjah and Emirates will likely welcome this move, others are not so impressed.

Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive officer of Al Wahda, is one. He said the increase of teams would be a financial burden besides leaving some clubs struggling to stay in the top flight.

"It is better to have a quality league with fewer teams instead of going for quantity," Awadh said. "Maybe we can consider the increase in the future when the all the clubs reach the same levels."

Salem Al Orafi, the assistant trainer at Baniyas, said the season was already too long and with 14 teams, it would be even longer.

"The players will be more tired towards the end, particularly because of the short winter months," he said.

apassela@thenational.ae

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