The UAE Pro League announced 2022-23 season calendar after agreeing with the relevant committees of the UAE Football Association regarding the national team gatherings and the President's Cup competition.
Changes to regulations of the competitions and operations were also discussed during an extended workshop on Saturday at Dubai’s Meydan Hotel.
The workshop was attended by UAE Pro League board member and Chairman of the Technical Committee Hassan Taleb Al Marri, UAE Pro League board member Tariq Ali Al Shabibi, representatives of the various departments of the UAE Pro League as well as representatives of the UAE FA, professional clubs and the media.
Discussions took place in a positive environment with efforts focused towards continued development of UAE football according to the 2020-2030 strategic plan.
The new season is scheduled to start with matchweek 1 of the ADNOC Pro League on September 2nd and 3rd and end on May 26th, 2023.
Three matchweeks of the ADNOC Pro League will be played over September, before being put on hold on September 17th because of the national team's first gathering.
Matchweek 2 will take place on September 9th and 10th, while matchweek 3 will be held on September 15th and 16th.
The ADNOC Pro League returns to action again with matchweek 4, taking place on October 1st and 2nd, while matchweek 5 will be held on October 7th and 8th.
The first round of Pro League Cup will kick off on October 11th and 12th, before returning to resume the league's fixtures, with matchweek 6 taking place on October 15th and 16th, while matchweek 7 will be held on October 22nd and 23rd.
Matchweek 8 will take place on October 28th and 29th. The second round of the Pro League Cup will be played on November 1st and 2nd.
Two matchweeks in the ADNOC Pro League will be played in November before the international break, with matchweek 9 taking place on November 5th and 6th, whereas matchweek 10 will be held on November 11th and 12th.
The first leg of the Pro League Cup quarter-finals will be played on November 24th and 25th, while the second leg will take place on December 11th and 12th.
After the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the ADNOC Pro League returns to action with matchweek 11, taking place on December 15th and 16th, whereas matchweek 12 will be held on December 20th and 21st.
The proposed date for the UAE Super Cup match was reviewed to be on December 25th, before the break for the national team's participation in the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup.
The ADNOC Pro League resumes action with matchweek 13, taking place on January 22nd and 23rd, while matchweek 14 will be held on January 27th and 28th.
The League will be put on hold because of AFC Champions League knock-out stages, which will take place in February with Shabab Al Ahli representing the UAE in the round of 16.
The ADNOC Pro League will continue with matchweek 15, taking place on February 12th and 13th, whereas matchweek 16 will be played on February 17th and 18th, matchweek 17 on February 25th and 26th and matchweek 18 will take place on March 3rd and 4th.
The competition will pause for the national team's participation in the West Asian Football Federation Championship, set to take place in the UAE, before continuing with matchweek 20, taking place on April 8th and 9th, while matchweek 21 will be held on April 16th and 17th.
The first leg of the Pro League Cup semi-finals takes place on April 20th, before resuming the ADNOC Pro League fixtures with matchweek 22, which will be held on April 24th and 25th ahead of the second leg of the Pro League Cup semi-finals which will be played on May 2nd, while the final will take place on May 17th.
Matchweek 23 of the ADNOC Pro League will be played on May 5th and 6th, followed by matchweek 24, taking place on May 13th, while matchweek 25 will be held on May 21st.
The 2022-23 season concludes with matchweek 26, set to take place on May 26th.
Changes to Competitions' Regulations Discussed
The amendments included the regulations of competitions and operations for the ADNOC Pro League, the Pro League Cup, the UAE Super Cup, the U-21 Pro League, stadiums' regulations, equipment regulations, the safety and security guide, and the accreditation guide, as well as, the youth programs list.
The workshop discussed the agenda for the 2022-2023 season, and the kick-off date of the new season starting from September 2nd, 2022.
Regarding the ADNOC Pro League, the addition of a new clause was discussed.
This clause regulates qualification to the AFC Champions League if the number of domestic champions exceeds the number of seats allocated to the country in the continental competition.
The mechanism for the clubs' participation in the competition will be determined based on a decision issued by the UAE Pro League's Board of Directors, in coordination with the UAE FA, without prejudice to sporting criteria of merit and the regulations governing the Asian Football Confederation.
As for the professional players’ contracts, clubs are obliged to hand over a copy of all contracts signed with professional players to the UAE Pro League Licensing Department within 10 working days after the end of the two transfer windows during the season, or within 10 working days from the date of signing the contract, if the player was registered after the end of transfer windows during the season.
Squad sizes were also discussed, with the squad reduced to 30 players instead of 36, divided as follows:
20 players who are either UAE citizens, holders of UAE passports, or sons of Emirati mothers, provided that they were born in or before 2006.
A maximum of 5 players of those who are provisionally eligible to represent the national team.
A maximum of 5 foreign players of any nationality.
The clubs would be also granted the right to register Emirati players, UAE passport holders, and sons of Emirati mothers in the slots designated for foreign players, residents, or UAE-born players.
The meeting attendees discussed the participation of all players registered in the club’s lists at the UAE Football Association, provided they are at least 16-years-old.
It was agreed that the number of foreign, UAE-born, and resident players registered in the match list should not exceed 8 players, in addition to canceling the condition that 3 Emirati players (who are eligible to represent national teams) born in or after 1999 must be registered in the match list.
The conditions required for changing the date of a match at the request of any club were also discussed.
They stressed that the request must be submitted at least one week before the match date, clarify with the reason for the changing the match date, and include written consent of the other party, while the final decision in this regard is made by the executive management.
With regard to pitch sprinkling with water, it was agreed that the host club must commit to spraying the stadium pitch an hour before kick-off for a duration of five minutes.
The referee and match commissioner have the authority to cancel the mandatory spraying period, taking into account the weather conditions.
Should the pitch be sprayed without the knowledge of the match commissioner or prior to the arrival of the match officials, the host club is required to notify the broadcast company and advertising board operator or risk facing a fine in accordance with the quality control measures and the club would be obligated to compensate for any damages.
As for the Pro League Cup, a two-legged knockout format has been adopted for the first round, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals, while the final remains a single leg.
The matches determining the positions of the knocked-out teams were canceled.
The ADNOC Pro League and Pro League Cup reigning champions are to participate starting from the quarter-finals, and in the event that the ADNOC Pro League champions were also the Pro League Cup winners, the Pro League Cup runners-up will also receive a bye to the quarter-finals.
The meeting attendees discussed the cancelation of the clause obligating the registration of 3 Emirati players and those who are eligible to represent UAE national team, in the match list.
However, the total number of foreign players and “UAE national team provisionally eligible” should not exceed 10 players in the match list, and not exceed 6 players on the pitch at any given time.
With regard to the UAE Super Cup, it was noted that the total number of foreign players who are eligible to represent the national teams should not exceed 8 players.
Hassan Taleb Al Marri: Development and modernization to keep pace with change
UAE Pro League board member and Chairman of the Technical Committee Hassan Taleb Al Marri opened the sessions, saying, "The meeting is held on an annual basis to continue the efforts of development and modernization, which we consider in the UAE Pro League as inevitable, aiming at keeping up with the pace of change."
"We always aim to stay at the forefront of the steps to reach the goals of the strategy 2020-2030 in order to promote the development of Emirati football to wider horizons," Al Marri noted.
"This workshop achieves its goals through continuous cooperation between the UAE Pro League, the UAE Football Association and the clubs.
We are all partners in order to reach the best applications, practices and rules that govern professional football competitions, aiming at achieving higher goals in serving the country and keeping our vows to the nation’s generous leadership in all fields," he added.
"We aim to come up with what is best for the higher interest, and to achieve goals of holding professional competitions which are not only a talent pipeline, but also an important asset in building and service society beyond the notions of winning and losing on the pitch," the Chairman of the Technical Committee concluded.