Concerns over of timing of ACL schedule

John Duerden
·2-min read

Concern is growing as to whether the eastern zone of the AFC Champions League can be completed in the face of travel restrictions in the region.

Sixteen teams from Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Thailand are scheduled to resume their campaigns in the continent's flagship club tournament in a bio-secure hub in Qatar on November 15.

The eastern zone winner is then scheduled to take on western conference champion Persepolis of Iran in the final in Doha on December 18.

The tournament was split in half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the western zone competition was completed in the same Qatar hub last month.

Australian clubs especially have an issue with the revised timing of the continental competition, with the domestic A-League season set to start nine days later after the Asian Champions League final.

And as Australia requires people arriving in the country to enter government approved mandatory quarantine for 14 days, players from Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory could be confined to hotels when the new season kicks off.

"Importantly, the Federal and State Governments have taken a strong position as it relates to public health and these protocols will make things very difficult for our club to participate in Qatar and return for the start of the A-League season," Sydney FC chief executive Danny Townsend said.

"With the A-League scheduled to start December 27, we have concerns for player welfare with the quarantine requirements required on our return from Qatar."

Townsend hopes that an arrangement can be made with the Australian authorities.

"Sydney FC are committed to completing the AFC Asian Champions League as long as we can secure travel exemptions from the Australian Government and can be assured a safe environment to play football," he said.

There are also questions as to who would be responsible for the financial costs of quarantine and whether non-Australians in the A-League clubs' squads would be allowed back into the country.