WITH the latest in the series of setbacks that have befallen club football in the country, god forbid the time comes when Filipino football fans couldn’t care less about the domestic league.
Interest in domestic club football is already low and it obviously doesn’t help when days into the launch of a rebranded and rebooted league, organizers announce matches wouldn’t push through as scheduled.
The Philippine Premier League (PFL), the newest incarnation of the domestic league, was slated to kick off this Saturday, March 30, but stakeholders and fans were caught by surprise when news came out that three of four new clubs failed to meet licensing requirements. Only Green Archers United Football Club was granted a provisional Philippine Football Federation (PFF) license.
The shocking announcement came no less from the PFF, which posted on its website last March 23 the decision of the PFF Club Licensing First Instance Body to deny the PFF License application of Mendiola FC, Espana United FC, and Philippine Air Force FC.
The report further read: “With the above decisions, Mendiola FC, España United FC and Philippine Air Force FC cannot participate in PFF club competitions for 2019. These clubs may apply if they so wish to secure club license for 2020 competition.”
Not only will the season be postponed, the league seemed to be in jeopardy with just five qualified clubs: Ceres-Negros, Kaya FC–Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, United Makati, and Green Archers.
Three days later, the PFL finally posted a statement posted on its Facebook page: “The Philippine Premier League will postpone the launch of the 2019 season to Saturday, April 27. This will allow Mendiola FC 1991 and Philippine Air Force FC to resubmit their documentation for PFF club licensing.” There’s no mention of España United’s fate.
With all the backlash, it’s hard to measure the effects of this latest debacle. Football fans are the most patient and forgiving, and the more level-headed ones understand that the PFF and PFL are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to implementing rules to professionalize the league while making it accessible at the same time.
But the organizers need to get its act together, lest what is left of the increasingly disillusioned supporters decide they’ve had enough, give them the boot, and walk away.