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Decision to abandon football season taken in the best interests of the public: Pro League chairman Al Junaibi

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on June 19, 2020
UAE Pro League chairman Abdulla Naser Al Junaibi. - Supplied photo

It is the first time the UAE top flight will not have a winner since the Arabian Gulf League turned professional in 2008

UAE Pro League chairman Abdulla Naser Al Junaibi said that the decision to abandon the remainder of the football season was taken in the best interests of the public considering the exceptional circumstances and added that it was important for the clubs to unite and move forward.

In an unprecedented decision, this season's Arabian Gulf League (AGL) will not have a champion, the UAE Pro League had revealed late on Thursday night.

Earlier, on Wednesday, the Pro League had announced that the AGL and the Under-21 AGL will not resume this season.

The Pro League, held an extraordinary general assembly meeting through teleconferencing, in coordination with the UAE Football Association (UAEFA), to discuss the implications of the decision on the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, and announced that there will not be a champion this season.

"This is an exceptional situation and naturally there will be some parties that are less happy than others, no matter what the decision is. So, at the UAE Pro League, our responsibility is to make a decision that both complies with the regulations and minimizes any damage, so to speak," Al Junaibi told the Khaleej Times on Friday.

"We are confident that this decision has been made in the best interests of the public and we urge all clubs and stakeholders to unite to move forward from here," he added.

It is the first time the UAE top flight will not have a winner since the League turned professional in 2008.
The only other instance when there was no champion was in the amateur era when the 1990-91 season was stopped before completion because of the Gulf War.

Dubai-based Shabab Al Ahli had led the standings with 43 points when the League was suspended on March 15 because of the pandemic. 

With the status quo, no teams will be relegated to the First Division and no teams will be promoted from the First Division to the AGL next season.

The Pro League also decided that the top flight will remain a 14-club League.

Regarding the AFC Champions League next season, Al Junaibi said: "The regulations are very clear that in case the season is abandoned, standings and results of the previous season are used in determining participation in the AFC Champions League, so the same clubs (last year's AGL champions Sharjah FC, Shabab Al Ahli, Al Ain and Al Wahda) that have played in the 2020 AFC Champions League will play in the 2021."

The UAEFA said that the President's Cup too has been cancelled. Al Ain were to take on Al Dhafra in the final. This would be the third time that the President's Cup will not have a winner after the competition was stopped before completion in the 1974-1975 and 1977-78 seasons.

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