Abu Dhabi: The Professional League Committee (PLC) has decided to change the name of the league next season to the Arab Gulf League.
The competition, which has been known as the Etisalat Pro-League in the past few seasons to carry the name of the league sponsors, will be changed in recognition of the value of the Gulf in the history and life of the people of the UAE.
The name change also reflects the deep-rooted relationship and links between the people of the Arab Gulf states and sport and football in particular, according to Mohammad Thani Al Rumaithi, the chairman of the PLC.
It is thought that the name of the league will be changed further and become the Etisalat-Arab Gulf League, as negotiations with etisalat to renew the sponsorship deal are ongoing and the two parties are expected to reach an agreement in the coming few days.
Meanwhile, the PLC has decided the new season will kick off on August 30 with the Super Cup match between Al Ain, the league champions, and Al Ahli, the President’s Cup winners.
The decision was widely criticised by coaches because of the hot and humid weather at that time and because the timing does not allow the teams to have a long, strong and good preparation for the new season.
This is especially pertinent for those who will take part in the AFC Champions League, bearing in mind that the Ramadan month will start on July 9, which leaves only about 20 days for the teams to prepare after Eid before the Super Cup match.
The cup for the professional clubs, which has been known as the Etisalat Cup in previous seasons, will begin on September 3 and 4, with the 14 clubs divided into two groups to compete in a round-robin format after a draw.
The top-four teams from the groups will play in the semi-finals, with the top team facing the fourth-place outfit and the second-place team playing against the one finishing third. The Arab Gulf League will kick off on September 14 and will end before May 18, 2104, in accordance with Fifa instructions because of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.