What's in a name? It's an issue that lead to the disbanding of the UAE's football league

The interim committee of the United Arab Emirates' professional football league has decided against increasing the number of teams in the competition to 14 from the current 12, while agreeing to a three-plus-one quota for foreign professionals, with all four being allowed on the pitch.

Meeting for the first time under the chairmanship of Saeed Abdul Gaffar Hussain, the five-person committee also decided to reduce the number of registered players with clubs from 50 to 39.

"This is excluding the four foreigners. So total will be 39. There will just one list and it will be up to the teams to decide which players play in the Pro league and which in the reserve league," said Hussain, who is also a vice-president of the UAE Football Association.

The draw for the Pro League will made on 6 July and the next season will see two match-days every round, instead of the three used last season.

The interim committee was appointed by the UAE Football Association after the UAE Football League (UFL), which managed the Pro League in its first three seasons, was disbanded by the government's General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare "due to a violation over its official name".

Ibrahim Abdul Malik, the Secretary General of the GAYSW said he had  acted because the league had “repeatedly ignored the authority’s warnings” to “abide by the official original name”, the League of Pro Football Clubs.

The League, led by the board chairman Dr Tariq Al Tayer, had marketed itself as the UAE Football League because it is “more expressive of the nature of its work and includes the country’s name”.

According to Paul Oberjuerge in The National, "league and club officials said the issues were deeper and broader than the dispute over the league name and represented a hostile takeover of the league by the FA.

"Other points of contention, according to club and league officials, included the fixtures calendar, availability of players for national teams and the FA’s concern at debt being incurred by clubs who have signed globally prominent coaches and players such as Diego Maradona and Fabio Cannavaro," he wrote.

Hussain said the committee had discussed the re-naming issue and will be making an announcement in the coming days. "It is not a big thing," he said. "It will not affect our work in anyway. It will take some time, but we are not in such a hurry. There will some modifications done [to the logo], since it still carries the UFL name. So that will have to be changed, but I don't think there will be a big change in that."

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