MY former boss Jack Biantan broke the news lately, of how the former clubs in the UFL will be dispersed to the provinces to play in the soon-to-be-launched Philippine League, which will become the country’s domestic competition starting in March next year.
Cebu has long been identified as one of the cities that should have a club and we will be getting one in Global FC, the club of Azkals manager Dan Palami, a good friend of CFA president Ricky Dakay. Purists who think that Cebu should be represented by a Cebu-owned club will be in for a disappointment, because frankly, operating a club in the P-League will be very, very expensive.
Besides, wishing for a Cebu-owned team and actually having one are two very different things. A few months ago, I tried to broker talks between local men’s open elites Erco BRO and Leylam for a unified club in the P-League, but it didn’t pan.
So, Cebu is going to have the last team to win the UFL as its home team for the P-League. It’s not going to be Global’s first rodeo in Cebu, having played here when it tried to qualify for the AFC Presidents Cup over three years ago. (Remember crazy Sanogo in his mid-game foray into the middle of the pitch?)
Dan has been meeting with local officials to discuss the move and has sent his newly-hired coach, former England skipper Terry Butcher. They went to the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), during our Sun.Star Football Cup, and also inspected the University of San Carlos stadium, and fell in love with the facility , calling it “our field of dreams.”
I think it would be better if Global would use the CCSC as its home base because it’s more accessible to fans and get this, the venue had more people than one of the latest Azkals friendlies at the Philippine Stadium. But using the USC stadium as home base could be good too as it makes for a captured market in the USC students.
It also opens up the possibility for another Cebu City-based club to use the CCSC as its own home base for the P-League. Next year may be an impossible target for a local team to join the P-League, but that doesn’t mean one can’t shoot for 2018 or 2019. And starting the groundwork now means a local club will have two or three years to prepare to make itself financially sound.
So, how will the local community accept Global? I think it would be accepted openly, just like in their AFC President’s Cup stint (Crazy keeper or no crazy keeper), but its fan base would sure grow if the club will have Cebuanos in the lineup.
I still don’t know the player regulations in the P-League, but local coaches I’ve talked with hope there will be a mechanism that calls for local player to be in their own team and a salary cap. Without a salary cap, this might go the way of the MBA.
The CFA’s grassroots program is expected to benefit too as it would be tied in to Global in the P-League, yet again leaving the option open for another Cebu-owned club to tap the Don Bosco grassroots program as its own should it join the P-League.
The P-League is going to be the future of Philippine football and frankly, we need it to succeed. We need it to thrive, so kids can keep chasing their dreams.
We can all do our part and supporting the Cebu team in the P-League will be a perfect start. Yes, if you want to push for a Cebu-owned team in the league then go for it, but as long as all you do is complain about having a visitor transplanted here and not actually start a club for the P-League, then it’s an exercise in futility.
So, how should the Cebu football community treat Global FC? As its own.