Philippine club football is set to reach greater heights this year. Global FC, by virtue of winning the UFL League and the Cup last season, are set to be the first Philippine club to participate in the AFC Champions League preliminary stage while Ceres-Negros FC gained a direct berth into the AFC Cup group stage.
Aside from participation in AFC club competitions, the Philippine Football Federation is set to launch the much awaited Philippines Football League by April of this year. The following is what we currently know about the League at the moment.
1. It will be a professional League
Announced last September 2016, the PFL will be a professional, national league where clubs play against each other in a home-and-away league format.
“The league we will form is a professional league, with professional club and professional players,” said Atty. Edwin Gastanes last September.
Pursuant to AFC’s regulations, Gastanes stressed that a minimum of six clubs is required to be recognized as a national league. The PFF initially pegged the deadline on December 31, 2016 but has since been extended it to accommodate other teams interested to join.
“We can’t have a national league, professional league if we don’t have at least six teams,” added Gastanes.
The PFL being a “professional” league also means that all players and employees shall be able to rely on football as a living — no more part-time players. Additionally, all club and player contracts and other monetary deals will be better structured and monitored.
2. Ten teams have applied for the League
According to a case study by AC Nielsen in 2015, 14 cities/provinces were identified as possible home bases for clubs: Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Marikina, Pampanga, Sta. Maria and Bocaue, Bulacan, Laguna, Bacolod, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga.
As of January 20, 2017, 10 teams have submitted their license applications to the PFF. Clubs are required to meet several criteria to get a license. The criteria, which is based on AFC’s stringent Club Licensing Regulations are the following: sporting, infrastructure, personnel and administrative, legal, financial, and club identity.
Global, Ceres, Loyola, Kaya, and Stallion were the first five teams to submit their applications to the PFF and have already chosen home cities or provinces. Global, renamed Global Queen City FC, will play their games in Cebu. Ceres-Negros FC is set to use the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod for their home games as well as their AFC Cup matches. Kaya-Makati have recently announced that the University of Makati will be their home field. Stallion Laguna tapped the Binan Football Stadium in Laguna last year and have been using the facilities ever since. Loyola is set to use the McKinley Hill Stadium in Taguig City.
By the end of 2016, PFF President Mariano Araneta said that 90% of the teams had already confirmed their participation in the PFL. The PFF President announced then that JP Voltes FC had submitted their application for the PFL. Green Archers United became the seventh team on board after announcing on social media that they had sent in their application before the Christmas break.
Last week, the number of applicant clubs reached ten. TV5’s Erel Cabatbat reported that three more clubs had expressed their intention to join the PFL. According to Cabatbat’s report, teams from Davao, Ilocos Sur, and an unnamed tenth team “have expressed their intentions in joining the league.” Cabatbat also quoted Gastanes saying that the PFF will formally finalize the participating teams by February 2017.
3. There will be a League and possibly a Cup competition
During the September press conference, the PFF also announced that the tournament format of the PFL will be a modified home-and-away league type. It will follow the format similar to Australia’s Hyundai A-League where teams play in a home-and-away double round robin league followed by a play-off championship series.
Gastanes also said in September’s press meet, that a national cup competition is also in the works to complement the league. An incentive to the clubs joining the PFL is that the champions of the League can be nominated to play in next year’s AFC Champions League or AFC Cup. Previously the champions of the UFL League and UFL Cup gained spots in AFC’s club competitions.
However, should a club become eligible to play in AFC’s club competitions, they should also adhere to AFC’s rules and regulations. One such requirement for a club to participate in the AFC Champions League, for example, is that they must play a minimum of 27 matches and that the duration of the national top division should run for at least eight months.
The final season of the UFL saw the champion team, Global, play a total of 27 matches (19 League matches and 8 UFL Cup matches) in a span of nine months to meet one of the criteria to play in the AFC Champions League.
With only a few months left before the launch of the League, expect the PFF and the clubs to unveil more information as the Philippine football community braces for its first professional, national football league. — CAL
1. Philippine Football Federation. (2016). Club Licensing Regulations for Philippines Football League. Retrieved from http://pff.org.ph/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PFL-Club-Licesing-2016.pdf
2. Cabatbat, Erel. (2017, January 9). 9 teams–PFF secretary general Atty. Ed Gastanes reveals at least nine teams have signified their intentions to join the Philippines Football League this coming March. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BPB7dbNgTig/
3. Cabatbat, Erel. (2017, January 17). 10th team–Philippine Football Federation secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes says they have already relayed all the requirements needed to a party that expressed its intention in joining the Philippines Football League. [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BPWUlrAgLta/
4. Asian Football Confederation. (2016). Entry Manual – AFC Club Competitions 2017-2020. Retrieved from the-afc.com/uploads/afc/files/entry_manual_entry_manual_for_afc_club_competitions_2017-2020_09112016.pdf