Champions Ahly have threatened to withdraw from the Egyptian Premier League if their remaining matches are postponed until after the African Cup of Nations, which is taking place in Egypt from 21 June to 19 July.
"The club will withdraw from the domestic league if any of our remaining matches are postponed until the end of the African Cup," Ahly said in a statement via its official website on Saturday after an emergency board meeting.
The Egyptian Football Association (EFA) announced the schedule of the last round of the competition on Wednesday, saying the matches will be played over three days, while the derby between Ahly and Zamalek will be played after the African Cup.
The Egyptian clubs have faced a confused schedule this season with many changes to the initial schedule, due to the participations of different clubs in continental competitions.
Ahly said they would refuse to postpone the derby as they want to end the season early to get the proper time to prepare for the new season, adding that the announced schedule for the remaining matches doesn’t provide justice for the competing clubs.
Ahly currently lead the league table with 74 points from 32 matches, five points ahead of second-placed Pyramids FC, who have played one match more.
The team still have two matches in hand in the Egyptian league, the first against the Arab Contractors and the second against rivals Zamalek in the final round (round 34).
According to the EFA's announced schedule, the final round’s matches are supposed to be played on 27 and 30 May and also on 3 June, as the national team will kick off its preparatory camp for the African Cup on 6 June.
"It is our right to have a sufficient interval before the new season to ensure that the players get the needed rest and also to allow the club to achieve the needed technical preparations to avoid the unprecedented losses that Ahly faced alone in the last three seasons," the club explained.
"In addition, we won't play our remaining matches unless all the other teams' postponed matches are played before the final round of the competition.
"We firmly refuse to play the final round matches in more than one day, as playing on one date provides justice between the clubs who are competing for the title and even those who are battling to avoid relegation.
"Ahly don't mind playing the postponed matches from the Egypt Cup competition in parallel with playing the league’s postponed matches, given the football association's desire to continue both competitions.
"Finally, we ask the football association for a fixed and fair schedule for the remaining matches in both the league and cup competitions, especially as the teams need sufficient time to prepare for the new season," the Ahly statement concluded.
Smouha’s president announced his full support for Ahly's demands, while the president of archrivals Zamalek said Ahly should be considered to have withdrawn from the competition if they refused to face the Arab Contractors on time.
Alongside Smouha, Arab Contractors, Haras El-Houdoud and El-Entag El-Harby also showed solidarity with Ahly.
The football association’s competitions committee is planning to hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the league situation in the wake of Ahly’s statement.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)