AFC to usher in new era of club competitions

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The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced the introduction of a Women’s Champions League and unveiled the names of three new men’s club competitions as part of a new era that will come into effect from the 2024-25 season.

Eligible clubs from all AFC member associations will be able to participate in the Women’s Champions League. A financial distribution model will be announced in due course.

The AFC has successfully organised two pilot Women’s Club Championships in 2021 and 2022, with the third edition scheduled to take place later this year before the Women’s Champions League launches in 2024.

The top tier of men’s Asian club football will now be known as the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE), comprising 24 teams. The 32-team second tier will be known as the AFC Champions League 2 (ACL2), while the 20-team final tier will be called the AFC Challenge League (AGCL).

The ACLE champions will be awarded a total of $12m (€11m), a substantial increase compared to the $4m the winners of the 2023-24 competition will receive. The losing ACLE finalist in 2023-24 will receive $6m, while both the ACL2 and ACGL will see boosts in terms of prize funds.

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, president of the AFC, said: “The AFC has outlined its ambitions to ensure our teams and players continue to shine through world-class competitions and a major part of this ambition is anchored on our promise to reinvest in our competitions, which is the lifeblood of development for all our member associations.

“The AFC has always held the belief that we have a duty to reward success and the increase in prize money and the travel contributions in recent years created a lasting impact on our clubs and we have every faith that the strategic reforms and the new funding model will further raise the intensity, stature and quality of the Asian club game.

“The AFC Women’s Champions League is a major step aligned with our strategy to provide a platform to showcase the talent of women players on a continental stage and we are confident that the competition will empower women in Asian football, contributing to gender equality and breaking down societal barriers, to make a positive impact on the growth of the women’s game.”