As their annual congress draw to a close, the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) announced the news that all Indonesian football fans have been waiting for. The 2021 Liga 1 Indonesia season will be held on July 10th, with the Indonesian Police releasing permits to organize the league according to the established health and safety protocols.
The July 10th schedule was amended from the initial kick-off date of around July 3rd-7th, as the PSSI wishes to allocate extra time for Bali United and Persipura Jayapura to wrap up their continental commitments first.
Both Bali United and Persipura are set to compete in the 2021 AFC Cup group stages which will be held from late June to early July.
The 2021 Liga 1 season will follow the same protocols as the 2021 Menpora Cup, without any audiences in the stadium and with stringent COVID testing on all parties involved within the matches. The league will also follow a bubble-to-bubble format which saw teams play in a set of centralized venues.
The PSSI have proposed that the 2021 Liga 1 season will follow a 6-stage format within the island of Java. The island will be divided into three regions with each region holding two stages for the league. The stadiums within the regions will be made readily-available to play the upcoming league matches.
The first region will comprise the provinces of Banten, West Java, and the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, with 9 stadium being prepared for league play. The stadiums consist of the Benteng Taruna Stadium (Tangerang), the Gelora Bung Karno, the PTIK Stadium, the Madya Stadium (Jakarta), the Pakansari Stadium, the Wibawa Mukti Stadium, the Patriot Stadium, the Gelora Bandung Lautan Api and the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium (West Java). Stages 1 and 6 will be played within this region.
The second region will comprise the provinces of Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta, with 5 stadiums being prepared for the league. The newly-rebuilt Jatidiri Stadium in Semarang will host their first official matches in this season’s league campaign, with the Citarum Stadium, the Moch. Soebroto Stadium, and the Manahan Stadium representing Central Java as well. The Special Region of Yogyakarta will be represented by both the Maguwoharjo Stadium and the Sultan Agung Stadium. The second region will play host to Stages 2 and 5.
The third and final region will be the province of East Java, the island of Madura included. The stadiums that will be used for the league are the Kanjuruhan Stadium, the Gelora Ratu Pamelingan, the Gelora Bung Tomo, the November 10th Tambaksari Stadium, the Gajayana Stadium, the Gelora Joko Samudro, the Tri Dharma (Petrokimia) Stadium, the Gelora Delta, the Brawijaya Stadium, and the Surajaya Stadium. The third region will host Stages 3 and 4.
Each stage will last around one month and a half, before the 18 participating clubs are sent back to their home bases to prepare themselves for the next stage.
This multiple stage format within the Liga 1 isn’t something that’s too alien for Indonesian sports, as both the Indonesian Basketball League (IBL) and the Indonesian Pro Futsal League (IPFL) follow a similar format even before the pandemic.
It is expected that underneath this new format and without any delays, the 2021 Liga 1 season will conclude in March of 2022. It is unknown how Indonesia’s representatives for the 2022 continental competitions will be decided as the AFC usually accept participants of either the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup no later than December.
Other than the announcement of the upcoming league season, the 2021 PSSI Annual Congress also confirmed the name changes of several hundred teams across both the Liga 2 and the Liga 3, with Cilegon United now officially RANS Cilegon FC, Martapura FC now officially Dewa United Martapura, and Putra Sinar Giri now officially known as Putra Safin Group.
However, both Bhayangkara FC and PS TIRA-Persikabo, who had mulled plans to rebrand themselves as Bhayangkara Solo FC and Persikabo 1973 respectively, will still have to compete using their old identities as they have failed to submit their name change requests in time.