Arabian Gulf League to be affected as UAE domestic kick-off is postponed

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The Gulf Cup has hampered the start of a number of leagues.

The Pro League Committee is set to imminently announce the kick-off of domestic football in the UAE will be delayed until mid-September from next week’s original start date after the one-year postponement of December’s Gulf Cup.

A Standing Committee of Secretaries meeting attended by representatives from each of the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations plus Iraq and Yemen convened to vote on the host Kuwait’s request because of infrastructure problems. 

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This call to now run the competition in December 2016 or January 2017 was given unanimous backing, acting general secretary Mohammed Hazzam Al Dhaheri providing the UAE Football Association’s consent.

The PLC’s Technical Committee had already planned for this eventuality before the talks began, an official annoucement about the alternative calendar which was drawn up in anticipation likely to be sent out today. This means August 15’s 2015/16 campaign-opening Arabian Gulf Super Cup clash between Al Ain and Al Nasr will be put back by about a month, August 19’s Arabian Gulf League and August 27’s Arabian Gulf Cup starts also affected.

“An official annoucement is likely on Tuesday, but this is not 100 per cent confirmed,” a senior source from the organising body said. “This will see the entire domestic season in the UAE moved back to mid-September.

“The PLC’s Technical Committee planned the alternative schedule in advance of the Gulf Cup meeting. The new calendar is evenly spaced out, also providing ample time for the UAE national team’s World Cup 2018 qualifying commitments.”

Members from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen and Bahrain are currently in Kuwait City’s Crowne Plaza Hotel for a two-day conference, discussions about the formation of a GCC Football Federation are set to be held soon.

Kuwait Football Association president Sheikh Dr. Dr. Talal Al Fahad Al Sabah reiterated in yesterday’s first meeting the nation – who boast the most wins with 10 and has hosted three times previously – require several months of maintenance work to be carried out on venues such as the 60,000-capacity Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium and separate training facilities. It is not possible for this to be done before the provisional December 23-January 5 running dates for the 23rd running of the regional competition.

Al Dhaheri praised the timing of the decision, believing it avoided the prospect of a calamitious last-minute withdrawal.

He said: “All eight nations agreed on the postponement and this is 100 per cent the correct choice.

“We want each event to be better and better, setting a new standard. With the work required in Kuwait, this would not have been possible in four months.

“It is much better to take this correct decision now than have to pull out at the last minute.”

The UAE has lifed the Gulf Cup in 2007 and 2013, finishing third in last year’s running in Saudi Arabia.

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