The Iraq Football Association (IFA) has announced a brand new format for the current Iraqi Premier League season which will be adopted in order to ensure the tournament finishes on time.
The competition has been postponed since October due to the protests that have been going on within the country. Matches from the first four rounds had been played before the suspension, but the lack of time has made the completion of a full 38-round campaign untenable.
At the IFA’s meeting today, five of the 20 top-flight clubs (Zakho, Al-Samawa, Al-Diwaniya, Al-Karkh and Al-Qasim) announced their withdrawal from the remainder of the season, leaving 15 competing teams. The results of the matches played before the league’s postponement will be annulled, and the 15 teams will be split into three groups of five, with Al-Shorta, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Zawraa each being placed in separate groups. Each team will play the other teams in their group twice, and the top two from each group will advance to the final stage.
The final stage will consist of six teams, and each team will play each other once. The team with the most points from their five final stage matches will be crowned champions of the 2019/20 season. No teams will be relegated, and two will be promoted, resulting in a 22-team league for the 2020/21 season.
The teams will be drawn into their groups on Monday and the season will resume on 20 February, with the venue of the matches being determined at a later date in accordance with the situation in the country. The league champions will qualify for next season’s AFC Champions League group stage, with the runners-up earning a spot in the ACL qualifying rounds.