Dubai: Marwan Bin Galita, the president of the UAE Football Association (UAE FA) has called on the footballing fraternity, starting with the clubs, to step things up to attract better attendance as the new football season gets underway from August 22-23.
Ajman take on Hatta while Al Jazira will host Khor Fakkan at 7.15 pm in the opening round of the Arabian Gulf Cup on August 22, while defending league champions Sharjah will travel to Bani Yas for the 9.30 pm kick-off encounter.
Round Two matches of the Arabian Gulf Cup will be held on August 26, 30 and 31, while the third-round games will be played on September 6-7. The opening round of the now re-branded Arabian Gulf League (AGL) is scheduled to take place on September 19-20.
We have put everything in place for the conduct of a strong set of competitions. The ball is now in the court of the 14 participating clubs, their fans and supporters.
The UAE FA has ushered in a few changes starting this season in an attempt to further woo the community within the UAE to attend live matches. Prominent among these is a spate of match-day initiatives and engagements at the club level.
“There is no doubt that this is going to be an exceptional season with this re-launch. The preparations that have been carried out by the erstwhile PLC [Professional League Committee] are exceptional and these should start showing results as we get ready for the launch of another season,” Galita, the UAE FA boss, told Gulf News at the re-launch of the league with a new corporate identity at the Armani Hotel at the foot of the Burj Khalifa late on Friday.
The rebranded UAE Pro League was called the Pro League Committee (PLC) till the end of last season.
“I can see that most of the clubs have been preparing very well for the start of the season and that gives us big hope that this will be a new beginning for football in the UAE. However, clubs need to work harder to attract more fans because now we have players from all over the world playing here,” he added.
Attending the re-launch were UAE Pro League (UAE PL) chairman Abdullah Nasser Al Junaibi, UAE PL CEO Waleed Al Hossani and AFC director of competitions Shin Mang-il. The UAE Pro League was called the Pro League Committee (PLC) till the end of last season.
After the first three rounds, the final stages of the Arabian Gulf Cup will be played outside of the ‘Fifa days’ to ensure fair competition, especially with regard to the participation of players born in or after 1997. The Arabian Gulf Cup final is slated to take place on April 2, 2020.
As per UAE FA’s approved calendar, the Arabian Gulf Super Cup between President Cup winners Shabab Al Ahli Dubai and Arabian Gulf League winners Sharjah Club will be played on September 14, while the 2019-2020 Arabian Gulf League will kick-off on September 19 and conclude on May 18, 2020.
“We have put everything in place for the conduct of a strong set of competitions. The ball is now in the court of the 14 participating clubs, their fans and supporters to make a success out of it. Let us hope that the clubs will work hard with the PLC to attract more fans in the first place,” Bin Galita hoped.
UAE PL’s general secretary Al Junaibi insisted that the league is being structured in a way to further assist in the development of UAE football. “Today, it is all about a new logo and a new start along with a fresh challenge for all of us,” Al Junaibi said.
“It’s a more holistic marketing campaign that will include a much better engagement of fans. They will be the real storytellers and they will tell our story in the best possible way,” he added.