Southeast Asia dominate 2018 SPIA shortlist for best developing league

Room for Improvement: Former Champions Kashima & Guangzhou must step up

Liga 1 (Indonesia), Philippines Football League (Philippines), Singapore Premier League (Singapore) and V.League 1 (Vietnam) make the four out of 10 entries which made the shortlist for the best developing league in the continent ahead of the 2018 Asia’s Sports Industry Awards & Conference (SPIA Asia Awards).

The shortlist has been confirmed in a separate press release by SPIA Asia and the Asian Football Confederation AFC.

Nominees in this category have been initially screened and assessed through 11 categories such as (to name some) management & administration, financial performance, competition, marketing & promotion and media & communications. Determining who made the the shortlist lies more on the administrative and management side of running the league rather than the technical performance.

AFC Best developing football leagues of the year

Other league entries that complete the shortlist have been equally impressive as well, the most prominent of which is India’s I-League, followed by Bhutan’s National League, Guam’s Soccer League, Jordan’s Al-Manaseer Jordanian Pro League, Kyrgyz Republic’s Kyrgyzstan Top Liga, and the Tajik League of Tajikistan.

Let’s do a brief rundown of each league shall we?

1. Bhutan National League

Number of seasons: 6
Defending/Current Champions: Transport United
Interesting Fact: In its entire six seasons of existence, there has been no back-to-back champions yet for the National League. Currently Transport United is at the top of the table but it’s shaping up to be a tight race with still a lot left for the season.

2. Guam Soccer League

Number of seasons: 29
Defending/Current Champions: Rovers FC
Most titles: Guam Shipyard, 9 titles
Interesting Fact: Current Champions Rovers FC is a relatively new club founded in 2008 but they immediately made a mark by winning the last five seasons. Can they overtake Guam Shipyard?

3. I-League

Number of seasons: 11
Defending/Current Champions: Minerva Punjab
Most titles: Dempo, 3 titles
Interesting fact: After Mohun Bagan won the title in 2014-15, what followed were back-to-back runners-up finishes. And in 2017-18 they finished in third. Heartbreak.

4. Indonesia Liga 1

Number of seasons: 1
Defending and Current Champions: Bhayangkara FC
Interesting Fact: Formerly known as Indonesia Super League, the competition was rebranded as Liga 1 which was relaunched after a two-year hiatus.

5. Al-Manaseer Jordanian Pro League

Number of seasons: 74
Defending/Current Champions: Al-Wehdat
Most titles: Al-Faisaly, 33 titles

Probably the league with the most established history, Jordan’s Pro League has been around for quite some years now but they are now slowly making their presence felt in the region with their ongoing developments to increase their reach to their fanbase.

6. Kyrgsyzstan Top Liga

Number of seasons: 26
Defending/Current Champions: Alay FC
Most titles: Dordoi Bishkek, 9 titles
Interesting Fact: Recent seasons, Alay and Dordoi are the two most competitive sides as they seem to end up as the two teams vying for honours. Pretty intense rivalry there!

7. Philippines Football League

Number of seasons: 2
Defending/Current Champions: Ceres-Negros FC
Most titles: Ceres-Negros FC, 2 titles
Interesting Facts: The Philippines Football League came to the fore in Philippine football in 2016 as the first fully professional league setup in the country.

As for domination, Ceres-Negros FC may have shown their mastery of the league by completing a back-to-back, being the tournament’s sole champion for the duration of its young existence. However, a new league cup champion awaits as Ceres were not able to maintain their contention in this inaugural cup, relinquishing their chance to win the first “double”.

8. Singapore Premier League

Number of seasons: 23
Defending/Current Champions: Albirex-Niigata Singapore
Most titles: Warriors FC, 9 titles
Interesting Fact: Albirex-Niigata Singapore has been showing its dominance in the league lately with its third title on the trot. This impressive haul was further consolidated by winning the Singapore Cup four straight times!

Meanwhile, Tampines Rovers had runners-up finishes with six!

9. Tajik League of Tajikistan

Number of seasons: 26
Defending/Current Champions: FC Istiklol Dushanbe
Most titles: Regar-TadAZ Tursunzoda, 7 titles
Interesting Fact: FC Istiklol Dushanbe has been the winningest club at the moment for the Central Asian league winning six of the last eight titles that was only broken by a two year blip when Ravshan Kulob got a back-to-back.

10. V.League 1

Number of seasons: 18
Defending/Current Champions: Ha Noi FC
Most titles: The Cong, 5 titles
Interesting Fact: If current 2018 champions Ha Noi can defend their title next season, they are going to go level with The Cong as the club with the most titles won.