THE grand plan to form a national football league in the country has started rolling as the Philippine Football Federation has finally issued the requirements for applicants to be eligible to join.
The PFF on Tuesday briefed prospective clubs and owners on the club licensing regulations that have been crafted, signaling the start of acceptance of applicants for the premier league, set to be known as the Philippines Football League that’s expected to kick off in the middle of March.
The regulations, crafted with the help of Fifa (International Football Federation) and AFC (Asian Football Confederation), and approved by the PFF board of governors, enumerate the sporting, financial, legal, infrastructure, and the personnel and the administrative criteria required to take part in the league.
“The most important thing is we should know the clubs that can comply with the club licensing regulations even if it’s just seventy percent of the licensing regulations that can form part of the league later on,” PFF president Nonong Araneta said in the press conference after the briefing.
AFC regulations require a minimum of six clubs for a competition to run and be qualified as a national league.
The PFF explained to potential club owners the Fifa, AFC, and PFF-commissioned Nielsen marketing study that identified 14 cities as home bases for teams, namely: Manila, Makati, Quezon City, Marikina, Pampanga, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, and Laguna from Luzon; Cebu, Bacolod, and Iloilo from Visayas, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and Zamboanga in Mindanao.
The top United Football League teams are also expected to submit applications, while PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes bared a club each from Davao and Cebu have also expressed interest in joining.
“I think community football is the future in terms of where we want to go as far as professional football is concerned and the national league is a big step towards that direction,” national league task force member and UFL president Randy Roxas said of the league, which runs with a home-and-away, double-round robin format and recommended by AFC to have a promotion-relegation provision.
“But I think the UFL clubs still need to digest the information that was shared with them today,” the concurrent Loyola Meralco vice chairman added. “We all know that most of the UFL clubs carry the contracts of the premier players in the country and the likelihood that they will participate in this endeavor is pretty high.”