By Jonas Terrado
Sustainability is what officials of the rebranded national football league now dubbed the Philippine Premier League hopes to attain ahead of planned start of the 2019 season in late-March.
PPL Commissioner Bernie Sumayao said he has set plans to assure that the rebooted domestic competition will be able to avoid the pitfalls that marred the first two seasons of the league previously known as the Philippines Football League.
The PFL saw Meralco, Ilocos United and Davao Aguilas fold during its tenure while multiple players from Global-Cebu had complained of unpaid salaries after the 2018 campaign.
“It’s a work in progress over a long period of time, but we hope to have a great start,” said Sumayao during a press conference held at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City.
Sumayao, who had a hand in the growth of the Thai League in the 90s, bared the league is eyeing at least eight clubs to participate in the season that will have the league competition and the cup-style Copa Paulino Alcantara.
Participating clubs will be revealed next month, though representatives from two-time PFL champion Ceres-Negros and inaugural Copa winner Kaya FC were seen attending the event.
The home-and-away format were scrapped in favor of centralized matches in Metro Manila and the provinces while the PPL inked a television deal with ESPN5’s UHF channel 5 Plus which Sumayao said will be key in helping the league secure needed finances.
Under the agreement, 5 Plus will air one live PPL game every Saturday evening.
PPL tournament director Richie Ganaban said the league will have a triple-round format aside from the two-legged playoff competition for the Copa Paulino Alcantara.