2017 marks the year the Philippine Football Federation will inaugurate its first national football league, the Philippine Football League.
Following in the footsteps of its Asian neighbors, the upcoming league will showcase the country’s top clubs from different regions. Eight clubs are set to be the inaugural members of the league on its opening in April to play in a home-and-away format.
Out of the eight, six clubs came from the former premier association football tournament in the country, the United Football League. These are: Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (Rizal Memorial Stadium), Global Cebu FC (University of San Carlos Football Stadium), Ceres Negros FC (Panaad Park Football Stadium), Kaya FC – Makati (University of Makati Football Stadium), Stallion Laguna FC (Biñan Football Stadium) and JP Voltes Marikina FC (Marikina Sports Complex).
Completing the roster are newcomers Ilocos United FC (President Elpidio Quirino Stadium) and the Davao Aguilas FC (Davao del Norte Sports and Tourism Stadium). Davao Aguilas is the lone club from the Mindanao region to take part in the league.
Before PFL: The United Football League
Prior to PFL’s creation, top tier clubs in the country enjoyed their time in the UFL, which began in 2009 as a semi-professional association league under the National Capital Region Football Association.
The league was made up of two divisions with 10 clubs each following a double round-robin format in the games. During its final season in 2015/16, the people behind the league dropped the Second Division and only 12 clubs were left to compete.
With the competitive level brought upon by the UFL in the local football scene, there has been a steady influx of foreign players that flew in the country to take part in the thriving opportunity. Izzeldin El Habbib of Kaya FC received the league’s first ever Golden Boot with 14 goals in the 2009/10 season.
Former Ceres FC Negros forward Adrian Gallardo Valdes is UFL’s Top Scorer with a total of 48 goals for seasons 2014/15 and 2015/16 alone.
The Philippine Air Force became the first club to win the UFL Cup. Global Cebu FC holds the most number of titles won in the league with three championships
In the 2015/16, champions of the league automatically get a slot at the AFC Cup group stages while the cup champions get a chance at the AFC Cup playoffs.
PFL: Philippine Football’s Future
The PFF partnered with the international sports marketing firm, Red Card Global, for the upcoming PFL marketing and financial model.
People’s Television Network (PTV) is the official broadcaster of the Philippine Football League. Other sponsors and partnerships are currently underway and a formal announcement will be made soon.
The PFL’s official launch is slated on April 20, 2017 with the kick-off its first match on April 29th.