Excitement for the new Arabian Gulf League season will ramp up from tomorrow with the Pro League Committee announcing its fixtures for the 2017/18 campaign.
The draw will be conducted in the press conference room of the UAE Football Association’s headquarters in Al Khawaneej, Dubai, at 16:30.
All eyes will be on reigning AGL champions Al Jazira as well as the opening day fate of Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club following the merger between Al Shabab, Al Ahli and Dubai CSC in May.
For the first time since 2011/12, the top flight will also drop down to 12 teams – with newly promoted Ajman the only fresh faces.
The new season of domestic action in the UAE will kick-off with a reformatted Arabian Gulf Cup on September 4. It will now be played out in two groups of six, with the top four from each meeting in the quarter-finals, which will be two-legged, as well as the semi-finals, before a one-off final.
progress to the two-legged quarter-final and on to a two-legged semi-final then the one-legged final.
Previously, only the first two teams progressed from the pools straight to the semi-finals – with hopes the new format will attract stronger crowds and increase competition.
Elsewhere, an Abu Dhabi derby Arabian Gulf Super Cup between league champions Jazira and President’s Cup winners Al Wahda will take place on September 15 – a decision on venue remains to be made.
The top-flight entertainment begins a day later, with all domestic play set to end on April 29 to give time for World Cup 2018 preparation.
Al Ain and their opponents will be the only teams to feature in AG Cup action on September 4 because of the Boss’ commitments in the 2017 AFC Champions League’s quarter-finals. The rest of the participants will take to the field on September 8 and 9.
Another alteration for next term is the introduction of online ticket sales. This is viewed as an important method of increased revenue generation as the competition moves away from hard ticket sales.
Like the AG Cup, the AGL draw will also take place in two stages, the first including the top six teams from last season while the second includes the teams ranked seventh to 12th.