AFF moving forward with ASEAN Super League plan

The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), the governing body for football in Southeast Asia, has shed further light on its plans for a Super League competition by stating that the inaugural season will kick off in 2015 with an initial eight teams.

The eight franchise clubs will compete in a relegation-free division with a playoff system to decide the winner. The AFF is seeking eventual expansion to 16 teams for the annual Super League, with a limit on the number of franchises awarded to the key markets of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore so that the likes of Myanmar and Laos can also compete. The season will be played from February to September so that it will not clash with the Asian Football Confederation’s AFC Champions League or AFC Cup competitions.

The AFF said a memorandum of understanding has been struck with its 11 member associations, while it is also keeping the AFC in the loop. The Federation maintains the competition is not designed to supersede domestic leagues and instead seeks to build on football’s huge popularity in the region and provide financial sustainability for struggling nations. “The member associations of the AFF were briefed on the potential benefits including the financial forecasts for the participating clubs,” AFF council member and AFC vice-president Prince Abdullah Ibni Sultan Ahmad Shah told Reuters. “The concerns raised by the member associations, such as the impact to domestic leagues and the sustainability of the ASL were answered during the briefing (on April 3).”

The AFF is expected to progress its plans after the AFC elects its new president on May 2. “The AFF has agreed to further develop the proposed concept of the ASEAN Super League together with (marketing agency) World Sports Group to be presented to the AFC in the near future,” added Prince Abdullah.