- 24-team ASL to feature 197 matches and include championship game
- Clubs will come from 16 countries, with promotion and relegation planned via playoffs
- CAF plans to continue Champions League and Confederation Cup
Plans have been unveiled for the Africa Super League (ASL), which is aiming to transform soccer on the continent.
The 24-team club competition, which is being run by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), will kick off with the 2023/24 season and boast a prize fund of US$100 million, with the winner pocketing US$11.6 million.
Consisting of 197 matches, the ASL will played from August through to May, before a final to crown the champion. Clubs will come from 16 countries, with promotion and relegation planned via playoffs.
Arguably the competition’s biggest attraction is its financial rewards, which are going to clubs, member associations and CAF itself. The 54 member associations of CAF are set to receive US$1 million per year from the ASL. The continental confederation is also hoping to earn around US$50 million for investment in youth and women’s soccer.
Speaking to the BBC, CAF president Patrice Motsepe said his objective “is to get money for football infrastructure, for players, club owners, stakeholders”.
“We are talking about anything between US$250 million to $300 million every year.”
Motsepe added that the ASL’s 24 clubs would get “about US$2.5 million” each to support transport, accommodation and player trading.
The launch of the ASL sees it join the CAF Champions League, which rewards the winner with US$2.5 million in prize money, and the CAF Confederation Cup as one of three continental club soccer competitions in Africa. The two already-established tournaments will get a cut of the ASL’s financial windfall, a move that CAF says should help the trio co-exist.
The plan has received backing from soccer’s world governing body Fifa, though its president Gianni Infantino quickly distanced the ASL from the botched attempt to form a breakaway European Super League (ESL) last year.
“Well, first of all, the Africa Super League is a completely different proposition than what was proposed in Europe, which was a kind of a breakaway thing outside of the structures,” said Infantino, who was speaking at the ASL’s launch in Arusha, Tanzania.
“This is done within the structure within CAF, within Fifa, within the football pyramid structure.”
According to Reuters, the new competition is likely to be named the African Football League to disassociate it with the negative connotations of last year’s failed ESL plans.
Infantino’s support has ensured backing from CAF for the 52-year-old’s bid to be re-elected Fifa president next year.
Motsepe has also claimed at various media opportunities that the ASL will allow clubs to match the top wages offered in Europe and therefore enable African teams to keep their best players.
Soccer is unquestionably Africa’s most popular sport, so a new league that aims to take the sport to new heights (and riches) on the continent will attract attention.
The ASL, however, is not without its detractors. The South African players’ union believes the concept is ill-conceived and there are worries the league could discriminate against smaller clubs, according to the BBC.
Further details of the ASL will be announced in the coming months, with stakeholders reportedly hoping to get sight of a financial model.
CAF is yet to reveal how it will finance the league, nor where the revenue will come from. There are fears the competition could deplete the organisation’s funds rather than provide a shot in the arm.
CAF’s latest accounts, as seen by the BBC, show losses amounting to just under US$45 million for 2020/21, a year-over-year increase of 400 per cent.