GLOBAL Makati and Stallions Laguna stunned football fans a day before the opening of the Philippine Premier League (PPL) by pulling out. Hours later, Bernie Saddayao of the PPL said the two were never part of the league because they never really signed up. That’s curious because one of the first releases I got from the PPL mentioned Stallions as a participant.
Coach Ernie Nierras, who never minces words, said among the reasons for the pullout was that they’d be spending more for a centralized set-up (no home and away matches) and they had no control over the marketing. The marketing issue may seem petty for some but in an atmosphere where it’s almost financial suicide to operate a football club, giving the owners a lifeline isn’t only practical but a must.
Coach Ernie also raised some issues about licensing and the lack of transparency of the league.
Philippine football is just a small community and the guys who make the decisions basically know each other. So I hope the PPL, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and the club owners can meet and thresh out whatever their differences are.
Ever since Meralco and Ilocos folded up, we can count in our fingers the number of professional clubs in the country. The departure of Global Makati and Stallions Laguna is particularly sad.
The question now is can the situation be salvaged? It seems the PPL can still proceed with a five-team league but I hope the owners of Global Makati and the PPL can find a win-win solution to the problem.
Of all the personalities involved, I know coach Ernie the most and I know him to be a standup guy. I’m not taking sides in this dispute because I’m hoping the season can be salvaged. It’s great, too, that there’s no dirt throwing so far and it seems Saddayao has even taken a reconciliatory approach.
Is it just a matter of opening up communication lines? I hope so but I think it’s not as simple as that. Curiously, the PFF has been silent about this and the only thing I’ve heard from the association was when it announced that the license to compete of some clubs was not approved.
It’s a pretty shambolic start to a new league but I guess we can always hope that things will get better.
As for Cebu’s involvement, well, we are still on the outside looking in since we don’t have a club but fret not. I hear there are backroom moves being taken for the community to link up with the Philippine Air Force Club.