AFF cites three reasons for U-turn on Asean Super League
It is official, the lights have gone out on the Asean Super League (ASL).
Windsor John, general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), had told The New Paper last week that the Asean Football Federation (AFF), organiser of the proposed regional league, had written to the AFC to inform the regional body that it will no longer pursue the idea of the ASL.
While the AFF did not respond to queries last week, its secretary-general Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed yesterday that it will make no further moves to bring the ASL to reality.
"Yes, I can confirm that it has been scrapped. The decision was taken by the AFF council at its meeting on May 20 in Vientiane, Laos," he told TNP yesterday.
Azzuddin listed three main reasons behind the AFF decision - football associations across the region want to focus and improve their national leagues; the AFF could not fit the ASL within a tight regional football calendar; and the cost factor, with the AFF projecting that "in the long run, it can be very expensive, and clubs may not be able to sustain it financially".
The AFF had set up a task force to look into the formation of the ASL that was first mooted in 2005, with former Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin a key figure.
The ASL was proposed as a 10-team league with new franchises from across the region.
Each team needed to put up some $7 million to participate.
The ASL needed AFC's approval before it could launch, and John had told TNP in an earlier interview that the green light was not given because the ASL needed to show that it can "organise the competition under the structure of the AFC", and around AFC competition schedules.
The AFC runs two regional club competitions - the top- level AFC Champions League and the second-tier AFC Cup - both working around the schedules of domestic leagues around the region.
At that time, ASL organisers could not demonstrate that they could manage that.
Perhaps more importantly, the ASL did not get the full backing of regional football associations.
TNP had earlier reported that the Philippines was more keen on its professional league that was launched only in April, with recent media reports revealing that even the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) - previously thought to be a supporter of the ASL - had, in fact, scoffed at the idea.
"FAM did not agree with the ASL because it was going to interfere with the calendar of our domestic league," FAM secretary general Hamidin Amin told Malaysian Malay language daily, Harian Metro.
"Besides that, getting quality teams to compete would have also been a problem."