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Today, we launched a new club ranking system for clubs in Asia. We named this ranking system FootyRankings’ Asian Club Ranking, to differentiate it from the AFC Club Ranking. Previously we had a section about AFC Club Ranking on our website. The ranking system was released by AFC in 2014, but it hasn’t been updated for a long time. The last time AFC released the club rankings was in 2015.

In the 2021 AFC Champions League and AFC Cup group stage draw, AFC must enter the participating clubs into drawing pots. This is the first time AFC seeds participating clubs in the draw. For this purpose, AFC uses the AFC Club Competition Rankings (which rank AFC’s member associations), instead of the AFC Club Ranking. We think this marks the official demise of the AFC Club Ranking system. So, there’s no point in us updating the AFC Club Ranking anymore.

But we have seen the enthusiasm and excitement regarding the Club Rankings. There are news articles or social media posts when the club reaches a high position in the rankings table. So we think we have to publish a Club Ranking. But the old AFC club ranking system has several drawbacks, so we tried to create a new Club Ranking system

Here are several drawbacks of AFC Club Ranking system :

  1. Clubs from different MA will get different points, even if they have identical result.
  2. Champions and runners-up don’t get enough points for its achievement. They can be ranked below clubs that didn’t even reach final
  3. The results in all four seasons are considered equal, so club’s result three years ago has same value as current season’s result
  4. ACL and AFC Cup clubs are grouped together, so clubs from AFC Cup can rank higher than ACL clubs.

The new club ranking system will have these principles to address issues mentioned above:

  1. No MA/country points are added to the ranking, so all clubs will get the same points regardless of their MA
  2. There are bonus points for champions, runners-up, semi-finalists and so on. Champion will be getting the most bonus points to ensure high position on the ranking table.
  3. The most recent season will contribute the most to the ranking. The previous seasons will have less weight.
  4. ACL clubs will be listed first, followed by AFC Cup clubs. This is because the competition level between these two competitions is very different, and ACL level is far above the AFC Cup.

The ranking system is adapted from CONMEBOL club ranking system. From several ranking systems we tried, CONMEBOL system is the one closest to system we want. We made several changes so it better suited to condition in AFC. Read all the details about the new Asian Club Ranking system here

Top 4 Clubs in 2020

We will take a closer look into the top-four ranked teams in 2020: what made each club ranked where they’re at.

1. Persepolis

Overall, their performance in the last 4 seasons has been very good. In 2017, Persepolis ended its journey in semi-finals, after losing to Al Hilal. In 2018, the Tehran club made one step further to reach the final. However, they lose 0-2 on aggregate to Kashima Antlers. One year later, they were ranked fourth in the group stage after only collected 7 points. In 2020, Persepolis would reach the final again. Unluckily, they came out as runners-up for the second time in three years after losing to Ulsan Hyundai.

Summary: 2x runners-up, 1x semi-finals, 1x group stage

2. Al Hilal

Al Hilal is without a doubt one of the biggest clubs in Asia. Their performance in last 4 seasons were really good, but not very consistent. In 2017, they came out as runner-up after losing to Urawa in the final. But in 2018, they only got 2 points in group stage and finished fourth in their group. In 2019, they won the title after successfully made their revenge to Urawa. In 2020, they were forced to withdraw from the group stage after experiencing problems with player availability due to COVID-19.

Summary: 1x champions, 1x runners-up, 2x group stage

3. Ulsan Hyundai

Ulsan is the winner of AFC Champions League in 2020. They won the title after beating Persepolis 2-1 in the final. However, Ulsan’s performance in previous seasons was not that great. In 2017, they only finished 3rd in group stage. They failed to compete with Kashima Antlers and Muangthong United. In 2018 and 2019, they were eliminated in the round of 16 after losing to Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Urawa Red Diamonds.

Summary: 1x champions, 2x round of 16, 1x group stage

4. Urawa Red Diamonds

Urawa Red Diamonds has a very different record than the three clubs mentioned earlier. Urawa has only qualified for two of the last four seasons. But when they qualify, they always reach the final. In the two finals, they also always met Al Hilal. In 2017, Urawa won the title, but failed to do the same in 2019. However those results were enough to put them in 4th position.

Summary: 1x champions, 1x runners-up

View the full Club Ranking here

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