Persian Gulf Pro League sides Persepolis, Esteghlal, and Golgohar Sirjan are facing a race against time to meet the A Criteria – established by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – of the AFC Club Licensing Regulations.
According to the Iran Football Federation, the AFC has issued a petition to its independent Entry Control Body, calling for the withdrawal of the three clubs’ licenses as they are yet to fulfil the licensing regulations.
The clubs has now been given until 11:59 p.m. Malaysian local time (1559 GMT) of December 27 to provide the AFC body with the requirements and documentations.
A failure to meet the deadline will see the Tehran-based archrivals Persepolis and Esteghlal being left out of the 2022 AFC Champions League (ACL), before being further assessed by the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee.
Iranian champion Persepolis – an ACL finalist in 2018 and 2020 – has been handed a place in the west zone group stage of the Asian elite clubs’ competition, kicking off in May, while Esteghlal, which finished third in the Iranian league last season, will have to secure its place in the group phase through playoffs.
Iran has been granted a 2+2 quota for next year’s event, with Foolad Khuzestan – Iran’s Hazfi Cup champion – also being guaranteed a group spot, while league runner-up Sepahan will have to join Esteghlal in the playoffs in April.