UAE football’s governing body has struck a new three-year deal worth Dhs255m to show live games from the Arabian Gulf League and associated competitions.
The Pro League Committee announced it had renewed the sale of its television broadcast rights in an equal deal between Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Channels at Abu Dhabi’s Fairmont Bab Al Bahar hotel, Monday.
The PLC has contracted LIVE as its exclusive production company to show AGL, Arabian Gulf Cup, Arabian Gulf Super Cup and Under-21 League games.
All parties said they had wanted to continue a lengthy and strong partnership which began many years ago at the inception of the professional football era in the UAE and has contributed to the development of the game and the competing clubs.
Abdullah Naser Al Junaibi, chairman of the PLC and vice chairman of the UAE Football Association, claimed the cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Dubai Sports Channels will continue to benefit UAE football.
السيد علي بو علي، المدير التنفيذي لشركة لايف: نشكر لجنة دوري المحترفين على الثقة و نتمنى ان نكون عند حسن ظنهم pic.twitter.com/tHSnzmJAW2— Arabian Gulf League (@AGLeague) September 5, 2016
“The move comes as another positive step in the history of professional football in our nation,” he said. “All sides involved in this were extremely keen to continue this partnership, which we believe will become increasingly fruitful and beneficial for the viewing public.”
Al Junaibi also revealed that a number of new and exciting concepts are set to be rolled out over the next three years as part of the deal, bringing the broadcast of the AGL and associated competitions to another level and opening up additional opportunities and revenue channels for the benefit of the League and its clubs.
He was also keen to underline the dedication towards assisting the clubs in becoming more financially independent and viable as entities, by reducing outgoings and debts, and increasing income – with the television broadcast deal the single largest source of revenue for clubs.
Yo-yo club Ittihad Kalba’s last-minute remodelling has continued with the addition of ex-Dibba Al Fujairah loanee Bakary Kone.
Kone, 27, impressed on the eastern coast last season as his seven goals and five assists in 24 games helped the promoted side avoid relegation. But another deal could not be agreed with Wydad Casablanca for the Ivorian attacking midfielder.
This presented an opportunity to swoop, with the new boy replacing discarded summer signing Carmelo Gonzalez in the four-player foreign quota.
There hs been rampant change at the Tigers, with Italian Fabio Viviani replacing coach Mourad Okbi and July purchase Yahia Kebe not being registered for action.
“Ivorian Bakary Kone, the player of Wydad Casablanca, has been purchased by Ittihad Kalba,” the club tweeted. “This came after Wydad gave their final permission.”
The uncertainty about Kebe’s future means they are likely to be pursuing one more non-Emirati ahead of September 16’s top-flight kick-off at Dibba. Iraq centre-back Salam Shaker and prolific Romanian forward Mihai Costea should still be retained.
In the domestic market, they have permanently brought in midfielders Mohammed Al Khdeim and Hamad Al Hosani from Ajman, plus Emirates Club defender Eissa Abdullah. Loan deals have been secured for promising U-21 League top scorer Shaheen Surour from Al Jazira and Al Nasr goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Baloshi.
Asamoah Gyan completed a season-long loan deal with the Al Ahli on Wednesday from Shanghai SIPG, 12 months after moving from Al Ain, where he scored 128 goals in 123 matches in his four-year stay.
The Ghana captain had a frustrating time in the Far East, finding the back of the net just seven times in a season plagued by a series of injuries.
Sport360’s Matt Monaghan and Matt Jones debate.
Aviator sunglasses indoors, a luxury watch acquired to such expense even Croesus would have dithered and diamond earrings to match – Asamoah Gyan’s re-introduction to the Arabian Gulf League was pure box office yesterday.
The Ghana superstar put on a performance to re-inforce a reputation which had taken a battering since his exit from Al Ain – the club who idolised him after 128 strikes in 123 games spread over four years – last summer for Shanghai SIPG.
Back in the UAE on loan following a spell in the Far East which featured more injuries than goals, champions Al Ahli can still feel confident genuine contributions beyond the grandstanding of a much-anticipated press conference will follow.
As the now 30-year-old striker commented, this country is where he has felt most settled. Vitally for the Red Knights, another link to happier times can be found in their dugout.
The combination of coach Cosmin Olaroiu and the signing – first on loan – from Sunderland was a golden one in the Garden City from 2011-13.
The Romanian’s proven ability to challenge great players to improve further reached its zenith in 2012/13, Gyan enjoying his finest campaign in front of goal as he struck a dumbfounding 31 times in 22 matches in a title-winning season.
Olaroiu has the ammunition to draw out even better displays. From flopping in China to confusion over a medical at Reading, he can spur Gyan to show his enduring quality.
A 4-4-2 formation alongside Lima is likely to be deployed, meaning Gyan will have a foil. The battering a lone centre forward usually receives will not occur; great news for a brittle body.
Excellent supply lines also exist from Brazil creator Everton Ribeiro and UAE flyer Ismail Al Hammadi. Further encouragement is provided by getting into lethal shape for the New Year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Fired-up, currently free of injury and back with Olaroiu, Gyan has everything needed to succeed.
The last time Asamoah Gyan graced these shores he left as one of the Arabian Gulf League’s greatest ever goalscorers, so to say he’ll reach those lofty heights a second time around is nigh on impossible.
The Ghanaian stands seventh on the list of the league’s highest ever scorers, having netted a gargantuan 95 goals in just 83 AGL appearances. In 120 total appearances for the Boss he plundered 128 goals. He won the league’s golden boot in three of those campaigns, including three successive years from 2011/12 to 2013/14.
To say he flourished in the Garden City would be to do him a disservice. However, when the time came to part ways, it was done on Al Ain’s terms. They accepted a mammoth Dh81.3m from Chinese giants Shanghai SIPG for a 29-yearold player who had just turned in his worst season in the Middle East.
Plagued by injury Gyan started just 12 AGL games in 2014/15, though he still managed a credible 13 goals in 17 appearances. His decline continued in the Far East. Gyan could only manage 10 games and a paltry four goals in the 30-game Chinese Super League season.
His total return from his debut campaign in China did yield an admirable 10 goals from 17 appearances in all competitions, but it appears his best days are behind him. The worry for Ahli fans will be whether Gyan’s heart is really in it.
Mystery surrounds the medical at the Madejski Stadium but he was desperate to secure a return to England. He was in the country for a number of days attempting to find a temporary new home, with several clubs interested, though no deal was struck.
Wages were rumoured to be a stumbling block, a non-issue here in the UAE, so Ahli fans have right to be concerned he’s just here in the hope of attracting a bigger suitor in January.
His troublesome quadriceps that marred his final season in the UAE raise doubts over that legendary pace and while his reintroduction to the UAE can be a prosperous one, he is a fading force.