ACL set for revamp

The Asian Football Confederation's professional league ad hoc committee met on Thursday and announced the Asian Champions League will undergo a major overhaul next season.

The Asian Football Confederation's professional league ad hoc committee met on Thursday and announced the Asian Champions League will undergo a major overhaul next season.

Only teams from professional leagues adhering to strict criteria will be able to participate and the final will be a one-off game as opposed to the two-legged tie played under the current format.

Japan, which has been used as the benchmark for the rest of the continent by the AFC with former J.League chairman and Japan Football Association president Saburo Kawabuchi chairing the ad hoc committee, has been put forward as the first host in 2009.

"This is not the end of the journey but only the beginning," said AFC president Mohammed Bin Hammam.

"Asian clubs now know the importance of professionalism and I hope we can do our best to make sure that the new AFC Champions League will be a huge success."

The committee has submitted a raft of proposed changes, with 13 nations putting forward applications to participate in the competition.

The AFC is also planning to implement a ruling which will permit four foreign players to represent each club, with one of those places taken by a player from an Asian nation.

The committee is due to meet again in Shanghai on November 25 before its decisions are discussed by the AFC's executive committee the following day. The new version of the league is then expected to be officially launched in Tokyo on December 12.