Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Competitions Committee, which met on Tuesday under the chairmanship of UAE’s Yousuf Al Serkal, has decided to include the top 23 countries in the continent’s flagship club competition from 2014 to 2016.
At present, clubs from only ten countries, who meet the ACL participating criteria, play in the competition.
The interested Member Associations, within the top 23 as per the AFC rankings, can apply either for a direct slot or a playoff berth in the competition.
Each interested MA/League/Club will be given points for each item of ACL criteria and the MAs will then be ranked according to the number of points collected and the slots will be distributed as per the criteria. Only MAs with a minimum of 600 points will be granted direct slots in the group stage of the competition.
The top five MAs in both East and West zones as per the points ranking will receive direct slots in the group stage of the competition while the remaining MAs will get playoff slots, if they meet the minimum requirements. A total of 14 direct slots will be given to the top five MAs in each zone and the remaining four slots (two in each zone) will be filled through playoffs.
The AFC Cup champions and the runners-up will be given a playoff slots in the AFC Champions League regardless of their respective MA’s rank as long as the club meets the minimum criteria.
The committee was informed that 11 countries – Bahrain, China, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the UAE – have expressed their interest to host the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian Cup. The interested MAs have been sent the bidding agreement, requirement of government guarantees and host candidate questionnaire which they have to submit by June 1, 2013. Those bidding MAs who do not submit the required documents will be eliminated from the race.
The members decided to change the dates of the AFC U-19 Championship qualifiers this year, approved the AFC U-22 Championship regulations, several amendments in the competitions regulations, the format of AFC Champions League and AFC Cup Round of 16, ticketing policy for AFC Champions League finals from 2014 to 2016, synchronisation of ACL and club licensing criteria and ACL points re-distribution.
The committee also approved a single match format for the AFC Champions League final for the next three years starting 2014. One of the finalists will host the summit clash and the venue will be decided by a draw.
All decisions of this committee need to be ratified by the AFC Executive Committee to take effect.