I WAS surprised to hear that the Davao Aguilas, the team that had the most sponsors, is pulling out of the Philippine Football League (PFL), which will be rebranded as the Philippine Premier League (PPL). I was even more surprised to hear the reason of the club owner for pulling out the club.

Team owner Jeffrey Cheng told Jack Biantan of Pinoy Football that he was pulling out because the PPL decided to hire Bernie Sumayao to run the league despite him volunteering to take over the running of the PPL. I don’t think it would be a good idea for a club owner to run the league as there are going to be a lot of conflict of interest issues.

As for its players, it won’t be long before Phil and James Younghusband find another team, but what about the rest? With a five-team league, roster spots are going to be limited.

Then again, that’s his decision which for me is equivalent to a temper tantrum that will ruin Philippine club football, which has been evading financial death since it started three years ago.

“I have been informed about the withdrawal of the Davao Aguilas, and have received it with a heavy heart. When an important team departs the league, it is always a cause of concern. However, we have also been approached by a number of teams that have expressed strong interest in joining the PPL,” Sumayao said in a statement.

He has a lot of plans for the PPL, which includes the lowering of the costly franchise fee that turned off UFL club Green Archers from joining.

Davao’s departure leaves only five teams in the league—Ceres, Stallion, Laguna, Global and JPV—but I also know that Global is struggling financially and I’ve heard some players go for months without getting paid.

The PPL is trying to lure Leylam to join the league, and I hope it does so Cebu will have a representative. Global is already based in Manila, and maybe it’s time for the team to look for an LGU or marketing partner there that could infuse much needed funds for the club.

I really don’t know what’s going to happen to the local league, but so far, I’m hearing the right words from Sumayao.

“The league needs to take very good care and listen intently to the concerns of its stakeholders—the Federation, the owners of the teams, the players, and most importantly, the fans. The fans are the fuel that drives the engine. Without the fans, even the most organized league will never survive,” he said.

Global Cebu was beginning to get a huge following in its games here, but sadly, the team left the next season. But that’s history that shouldn’t be dug.

I like Sumayao’s plans to have some of the PPL games here. There are a lot of Ilonggos working in Cebu, so I’m sure both Kaya and Ceres FC will have their own sets of fans when they play here.

As for Leylam, I sure do hope it considers a stint in the PPL. With a soon-to-be-finished artificial pitch, it has a ready venue for its home games.