THE 2018 Copa Paulino Alcantara, which kicks off on September 1, has received mainly positive feedback, but making the inaugural cup a success is another thing. That means the Philippines Football League management headed by PFL Chief Executive Officer Lazarus Jansen Xavier will have their hands full running and promoting the cup.

Xavier sees the Copa Paulino Alcantara not just as a step in the right direction but also as a reminder of the Philippines’ football pedigree and rich history that dates back more than a hundred years.

“I always view the Philippines as a footballing nation,” Xavier said. “And the Paulino Alcantara cup is an integral part of football’s ongoing revival in this country.”

“But the league cannot do it on it’s own,” Xavier admitted, as he urged stakeholders, the media and fans to help get the word out on the inaugural cup.

On the other hand, he is focused on further establishing the groundwork for the club system here. While everything on paper is fine, several questions hound the country’s club system, and football in the country as a whole.

Until now, the PFL has to grapple with logistics issues, such as clubs having issues meeting stadium requirements, messed up schedules, and misbehaving players. The PFL, though, is bent on implementing the rules to professionalize the club system. All of this has come not without a cost.

Perhaps the biggest blow the PFL suffered was the double whammy exit of Meralco Manila and Ilocos United just after the first season, reducing the league to just six teams. The lack of sponsors and the absence of a television broadcasting partner didn’t help either.

And then there’s Global FC. Once a club football powerhouse in the country, it’s been reduced to a shell of its former self, plagued with financial woes.

The good news is Global FC isn’t going away anytime soon. “That was one of our main concerns before,” said Xavier, adding that the club is deep in talks with yet another new owner, Mark Jarvis.

“We met him a few weeks ago and he told us he wants to take over the club,” Xavier revealed. “He said he’s found some new investors. He has managed to get new sponsors, and that there’s also been good feedback from Cebu among local sponsors who really want to help the club.”

Right now both parties — Jarvis and previous owner Arvin Carranza — are just straightening out legal documents to finalize the takeover. “Global will bounce back,” Xavier said with an air of confidence.

For now, the PFL will have to do with six clubs and make sure the number stays intact, as this number is the Asian Football Confederation’s minimum so a federation can field representatives to regional tournaments.

If the status quo remains, the six-club Copa Paulino Alcantara can field its champion to the 2019 AFC Cup. And hopefully, the fans continue to follow both local and international matches in what could be Philippine club football’s most crucial stage of development.

There is no other option but to make the club system succeed. Because if the domestic club system fails, Philippine football will go down the drain with it.