Muscat: As the new football season moved into top gear with the Super Cup yesterday, the Oman Football Association confirmed plans for professional football in Oman.
The Oman Football Association yesterday, ahead of the Super Cup match, announced the launch of the new Omantel Professional League. After many months of preparation and consultancy, the professionalisation of club football in Oman has begun, with the new season starting on September 13.
The Chairman of the Oman Football Association Sayyid Khalid Al Busaidi presided over the launch of the new League Authority logo and the competition logo for the new Omantel Professional League, and presented the plans for the league and to complete the full professionalisation of Club football.
The league's main sponsor, Omantel, were also on hand to launch the logo and confirm their support for the new venture. In addition the first fixtures for the season were released — with Oman TV announced as committing to cover 73 of the first half 91 games — close to 50 per cent increase on prior year of games shown on TV.
The OFA chief said: "This is an important step for football to take in Oman and one that we have put lots of work into it. Full professionalisation will come in time, but this is one of the first steps — and the new League Authority is now up and running.
"Significant increase in revenue is needed to achieved full professionalisation, and we are in discussion with the government and partners about how we can achieve that. For now, the new season will see professionalisation in the set up, in the fixtures, in match day, in television, and in many other areas.
"Excitingly, it will also see Omani teams taking part in the Asian Champions League next March. The AFC have rubber stamped our plans for the creation of professionalisation in this way — Stage 1 is to professionalise the league and Stage 2 will be all the clubs.
"They will continue to support us as we take further steps. I would like to put on record my thanks for all those who have contributed greatly to this process, especially to Omantel who continue to be the league's main commercial partner, and to the new commercial partners that have already joined this football evolution"
The official name of the league will be the Omantel Professional League, with the organising body called the Oman Professional League. The OPL will also be responsible for the management of the Division 1 and Division 2 as well as the pre-season cup competition (OPL Cup) and the national youth competitions.
The Omantel Professional League games will take place in five stadiums across Oman — Sur, Seeb, Salalah, Sohar, and Nadha — with the majority of kick offs taking place at 5pm and 8pm approximately. A number of workshops are taking place with clubs to educate their existing staff and volunteers while the process has already begun to recruit 28 new staff for the 14 top division clubs.
Saifuddin Abubakar, the OFA Technical Consultant in charge of Professional league and competitions, who has been one of the key driving forces, was excited about what the league will bring.
"We know this is the start, but already there has been great enthusiasm from the clubs, and we can all see what a professional approach will bring to football and to Oman. Clubs want to embrace the changes. The ultimate aim is to turn football into a vibrant industry for Oman that will bring jobs, community benefits and excitement for fans," he said.
The launch included the presentation of the professional league plan which includes a look behind the headlines at some of the aims and detail objectives of the league. Tickets for games will now be chargeable with tickets on sale at OMR1 per person. A number of promotions will be available for the launch and full details are online.