Another year, another revamp.
With the aim to provide stability to the local professional football circuit, the Philippine Premier League (PPL) was formally introduced in a press conference held last January 23rd at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.
“The PPL is a new entity, it’s a rebirth, it’s a reboot, said PPL commissioner Bernie Sumayao via Rappler.
“We don’t have any political agenda, we don’t have any financial agenda. Our agenda is to be able to reach the same level as what we see around today – that means the other leagues around the region,” he added.
In the upcoming season of the PPL, which will replace the Philippines Football League (PFL) as the top-tier professional league in the country, they target to have eight teams in the inaugural season kicking off in March 2019.
Sumayao also added the league is also targeted in the future to expand to have a divisions 1, 2 and 3.
He also bared the new league will also have a fan engagement by launching a website for team merchandise, fan magazine and inviting musicians which can attract crowd not only to listen for their music but also to watch PPL matches.
The league will adopt a triple round-robin format and will retain the Copa Paulino Alcantara, which teams will divide into two groups and the winner of the tournament will get an automatic slot for the AFC Cup.
PPL tournament director Richard Gannaban said the inclusion of Copa Paulino Alcantara is for compliance of AFC rules.
“Based on AFC regulations, should a club want to qualify for an AFC club competition, it needs to play the required number of minimum matches, which is 25. So for an eight-club league, that would guarantee 21 matches in the league and a minimum of six matches in the Copa Alcantara for a total of 27 matches. All in all, there will be 111 matches for the season,” said Gannaban via ESPN 5.
The first season of the PPL according to Gannaban without delays is expected to finish by December 7th.
Eleven teams already expressed their desire to join the PPL but the league only plan to have eight teams for its inaugural season.
Among the teams expressing their desire to join are reigning PFL champion Ceres-Negros FC, Copa Paulino Alcantara titlist Kaya-Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, Green Archers United-Globe and Philippine Air Force.
“We are still in the process of putting together all the documentation and by the 15th of February, we will be able to make the announcement on the final list,” said Sumayao via Rappler.
Three to four venues within Metro Manila will be the venue of the PPL games with the University of Makati football field recently installed with an artificial turf was one of them and was awarded two star rating from FIFA.
The league is still open in staging provincial games but it will happen in the latter part of the season.
Unlike in the PFL wherein, teams need to pay a franchise fee worth millions, in the PPL, teams will only an annual participation fee-which is only a fraction of franchise fee the previous PFL required a team to pay.
Broadcaster partner will also not the problem of the PPL after they strike a deal with ESPN5, the sports division of broadcast giant TV5 to broadcast one PPL game in primetime weekly. This is unlike in the PFL last season which games were broadcast on live streaming on the internet after they failed to find a broadcast partner.
The PPL game can be seen 5Plus channel 41, the sister channel of TV5 every Saturday from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM while the highlights of every PPL games can be seen on ESPN 5 flagship program SportsCenter Philippines, which is shown on TV5.
“Football has always occupied a special place in my heart, and we have tried to bring to the Filipino audience as much football content as possible. We covered the Suzuki Cup. We really wanted to cover the Asian Cup. We made what we thought was a very competitive bid. Unfortunately, it wasn’t awarded to us,’’ said TV 5 president Chot Reyes via the ESPN5 website on why they decided to get involved with PPL and the desire of his network in that time to air the AFC Asian Cup recently.
“Our involvement with the PPL is a continuation of our involvement in and our passion for football. And if we are present in international competitions, we felt we should also be present in local competitions. Hopefully, this will spur development of the sport even more,” the former men’s national basketball team head coach added.
Philippine Football Federation(PFF) President Mariano Araneta is optimistic about the PPL.
“Without a league, football will not flourish in the country. Hopefully, we’ll see a rebirth of league football,” said Araneta via The Manila Times.