The Asian Football Confederation, the governing body for soccer in the region, is preparing to transition its club competition calendar from its current spring-autumn season to a more established autumn-spring season from 2023.
The decision, which will apply to the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, follows a “comprehensive feasibility study” with input from the AFC’s member associations and is expected to be formalised in early 2022 for roll-out in the following year.
Among the expected benefits is the better alignment of the transfer window for AFC clubs with those in other leagues around the world (with improved chances for signing better players), a more even distribution of club and national team matches and better TV and media exposure for the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup matches (particularly in relation to Uefa club competition and European league calendars).
The AFC Champions League adopted a February-December calendar and the AFC Cup a February-November calendar in 2004 after their postponement due to the October 2003 outbreak of SARS in Asia.
However, of the transition to an autumn-spring season, the AFC said: “The transformation of the AFC Champions League over the years has led to an acceleration in its stature as one of the leading club competitions around the world with an established brand equity.
“The continent’s premier club competition boasts an ever-increasing core of supporters at the heart of its continuing success, leading to high visibility and optimisation of commercial opportunities.”
This is reflected by the recent tranche of deals the AFC has agreed for the competition, along with its various other club and national team competitions.
Most recently, it announced a two-year deal for national team and club competitions with Sky New Zealand, but it has also recently secured agreements with ESPN in Latin America, Central America and the Caribbean, M Plus in Macau, DAZN and TV Asahi in Japan, Football Sports Development Limited in the Indian subcontinent, OneFootball in the UK, Netherlands, Italy, Malta and San Marino, RCTI+ in the Philippines and Abu Dhabi Media in the UAE.