Finalist to host AFC Champions League final

KUALA LUMPUR - The AFC Champions League final will be hosted by one of the two finalists from next year after organisers scrapped the use of neutral venues in a bid to improve attendances.

Last year, around 25,000 fans witnessed South Korea's Pohang Steelers beat Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in Tokyo in the first one-match final since the competition rebranded for 2003.

"The committee was of the view that if the grand finale is hosted by either of the two finalists it would lead to more fan participation and boost the image of the tournament," a statement on the AFC website said.

This year's showpiece will again be played in the Japanese capital but the AFC said that a draw will be made before the 2011 and 2012 finals to determine which of the two finalists will host the match.

The 32-team AFC Champions League is the biggest club competition in Asia with teams in the early rounds split into two regions, East and West, to help travelling costs.

But with the successful teams from the two sections coming together for the quarter-finals, away match travel can prove difficult and expensive for fans in a region stretching from the Middle East through to Australia.

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