A major shake-up involving two mergers in UAE football on Tuesday took players, administrators and fans by surprise.
In Dubai, Al Shabab Al Arabi Club, Dubai Sports and Cultural Club, and Al Ahli Sporting Club are being merged into a single entity called Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club.
The order was passed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, has been named Chairman of the new club, which will be headquartered at the Dubai Cultural Sports Club, just off Al Awir Road.
A similar order was passed on Tuesday night by Sharjah Ruler, Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member, to create the Sharjah Cultural Club, merging Sharjah and second division Al Shaab clubs.
These developments will certainly spell changes to the UAE’s tournament fixtures. The UAE Football Association and Arab Gulf League have to sort out the line-up for the 2017/2018 season now from the 14 teams to the present 12.
Soccer pundits are quick to point out that the shake-up in the UAE follows a similar move in Qatar last month.
It is also a fallout of the financial troubles and organizational weaknesses among some of the clubs and intended to strengthen the game at the national level.
According to a tweet from the Dubai Media Office, Sheikh Mohammed said: “Our objective is to build a club that can compete regionally and globally.”
UAE Football Association (UAE FA) president Marwan bin Ghalita has welcomed the order, saying the decision was in the best interests of the UAE football.