United Football League (Philippines)

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United Football League
Ufl logo.png
Country Philippines
Confederation AFC (Asia)
Founded 2009 (2009)
Number of teams 10 (Division 1)
11 (Division 2)
Relegation to UFL Division 2
Domestic cup(s) PFF National Men's Club Championship
United Football League Cup
League cup(s) UFL FA Cup
UFL FA League Cup
International cup(s) AFC President's Cup
Current champions Global
(2014, 2nd title)
Most championships Philippine Air Force
(2 titles each)
Top goalscorer Mark Hartmann (27 goals)
TV partners AksyonTV
Website UFL Philippines
2014 United Football League

The United Football League, commonly known as the UFL, is an association football league based in the National Capital Region of the Philippines, governed by the Football Alliance (FA) in partnership with United Football Clubs Association (UFCA).[1][2] It is the Philippines' primary football league. To avoid the country's rainy season, the tournament is usually played from January to June each year.[3]

The league started as semi-professional tournament in 2009.[4] Since then, it has been described as a thriving football league, organized by former football players and aficionados.[5] At present, it is organized by the Football Alliance, whose long-term goal is the continued development of football in the Philippines through a premier league.[6]

Since the UFL first started, three clubs have been crowned league champions: Philippine Air Force (2), Global (2), and Stallion (1). The current champions are Global, which won the title in the 2014 season.

Competition format[edit]

The league is composed of two divisions, both with 10 clubs playing a double round-robin format. Like most football leagues around the world, it adopts the standard point system wherein match winners receive three points and losers get none. Each club receives a point, on the other hand, if the match ends in a draw.[7] For teams that are level in points, the following tie-breakers are applied:

  1. Goal difference for the entire season
  2. Total goals scored for the entire season
  3. Head-to-head results (total points)
  4. Head-to-head goals scored
  5. Head-to-head away goals scored
  6. Total away goals scored for the entire season

Promotion and relegation[edit]

Starting the 2013 UFL season, a new promotion-relegation system will be adopted by the league. The club that finishes second in Division 2 will also have a chance to be promoted via a two-legged aggregate-goal playoff against the ninth-place team in Division 1, similar to the system used in the Bundesliga.[8] Below is a complete record of the number of clubs that have played in the first division throughout the league's history:

  • 2010: 8 clubs
  • 2011: 7 clubs
  • 2012–2013: 10 clubs
  • 2014: 9 clubs
  • 2015–present: 10 clubs

For the 2015 UFL season, a single team in the first division, Pasargad, were relegated to UFL Division 2. Further, the two top two clubs from the second division, Ceres and Manila Jeepney, were promoted to the first division.[9] This is in light of Manila Nomads' voluntarily decision to step down from the first division to play in UFL Division 2 before the start of the season, citing its inability to comply with the foreigner cap rule.[10]

Qualification for Asian competitions[edit]

In January 2013, Global FC chairman Dan Palami posted a picture via Twitter of the letter of approval from Asian Football Confederation general secretary Dato Alex Soosay of his club's participation to the 2013 AFC President's Cup, which will be held from 2 to 12 May 2013 for the group stage.[11] The team's participation marks the first time that the UFL and the Philippines will be sending a team in the cup to compete against clubs such as Taiwan Power Company, Hilal Al-Quds, and FC Dordoi Bishkek, to name a few.[12][13] Global qualified and was chosen to represent the country after winning the league title in the 2012 UFL season.[14]

For the 2014 AFC President's Cup, instead of the UFL, the PFF–Smart National Club Championship served as the qualifiers for the Philippines' representative. Ceres, the 2013 PFF–Smart National Club Championship champions, will represent the country in the 2014 edition of the tournament.[15]

In April 2013, the ASEAN Football Federation announced the creation of the ASEAN Super League, which would be an annual international association football competition between domestic clubs sides run by the AFF that would kick off in 2015.[16]


Season Cup League FA Cup
1 2009 2010
2 2010 2011
3 2011 2012
4 2012 2013
5 2013 2014
6 2015 2015 2014
Note: The 2009 Cup was created to
determine the clubs for the 2010 league.

The regular season of the United Football League is composed of two competitions, namely: the United Football Cup, a knockout-tournament that allows clubs to participate regardless of their division, and the league, which are separate round-robin tournaments for clubs in the first division and second division.[17]

The association football season in the Philippines is from November to July, the driest months of the year. The UFL has a similar season schedule as the Philippine Basketball Association, with two competitions following one after the other: the cup competition and the league competition. The cup competition runs from November to December, while the league runs from January to July. Therefore, the two competitions in a season happen in separate calendar years. In 2009, the UFL Cup was created to determine the composition of teams that will be playing in the league.[18]

UFL Cup[edit]

Main article: UFL Cup

The United Football League Cup, also known as the UFL Cup, is an association football competition in the Philippines that runs from mid-October to mid-December.[19] The cup is a single-elimination tournament where clubs from both divisions of the United Football League are eligible to compete. In addition, the competition is also open to local clubs in the country that have passed the requirements set by the Football Alliance.[20]

The UFL Cup was first held on October 2009, sanctioned by the National Capital Region Football Association (NCRFA) and the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).[21] The cup was formed to determine the distribution of clubs over the Divisions 1 and 2 of United Football League in its inaugural season. Clubs were divided into four groups of four, the top two finishers of each group after single round-robin elimination qualified for quarterfinals (for division one) and the bottom 2 battles for Plate Competition (for division two).

Club Won Runner-up Years won Years runner-up
Philippine Air Force 2 1 2011, 2009 2010
Global FC 1 1 2010 2012
Loyola Meralco Sparks 1 1 2013 2011
Stallion FC 1 2012
Philippine Army 1 2009

After defeating Loyola Meralco Sparks in the finals, Philippine Air Force were crowned the 2011 UFL Cup champions.[22] For the 2012 edition of the cup, 28 clubs would compete into four groups of five and in two stages.[23] Clubs from the UFL Division 2, along with other guest teams, would comprise the first stage of the cup. Teams from the UFL Division 1, on the other hand, would be included in the second stage. Afterwards, the top 10 clubs would move on to the knockout stage of the 2013 PFF National Men's Club Championship.

UFL FA Cup[edit]

Main article: UFL FA Cup

The United Football League Football Alliance Cup, also known as the UFL FA Cup. In 21 June 2012, UFL officials announced that it will introduce a new tournament to its calendar around May of the 2013 United Football League season. Originally, the UFL Super Cup was supposed to feature 10 teams from the UFL Division 1 and the top six clubs from its second division.[24] A maximum of five foreign players would be allowed for each club during the inaugural tournament, and this number would be reduced to four players the succeeding years.[25]

In 22 April 2014, it was officially announced that the planned UFL Super Cup will commence after the 2013 UFL season, and will be held annually after the end of each league competition. As for its participants, the top six clubs of the first division will compete in this knockout tournament. UFL president Randy Roxas said that the Super Cup was supposed to include foreign teams competing against the league and cup champions. However, he explained that inviting foreign teams became too expensive.[26] The league champion and runner-up will receive byes to the cup's semi-finals, while the other four clubs will compete in two-legged knockout games.[27]

Year Winner Runner-up Result Date Venue City
2014 Global Kaya 3–1 26.07.14 Rizal Memorial Stadium Manila


Origins and foundation[edit]

In September 2009, with the aim of reviving the interest of Filipinos in the sport, the Football Alliance, composed of Santi Araneta, Randy Roxas, Phil Hagedorn, Javier Mantecon, Dong Longa, Mike Camahort, Monchu Garcia, and Christopher Hagedorn, discussed the possibility of creating a football league in the Philippines.[28] At the time, the Filipino Premier League, the country's top level football league governed by the Philippine Football Federation, has already been discontinued after its inaugural season. But instead of creating a whole system and competition, the United Football Clubs Association agreed to partner with the Football Alliance in operating the United Football League, which was then a semi-professional league.[29]

Corporate backing and sponsorship[edit]

Local courier company LBC became the principal sponsor of the UFL in 2009

The first season of the United Football League, officially named then as LBC United Football League for sponsorship reasons, was made possible with the aid of several local companies, namely: LBC Express Inc., Magma Inflatables, 2GO, Orient Freight, Mutual Fund Management Corp., and ATR Kim Eng.[30]

Since its inception, the United Football League has received corporate sponsorship. After air cargo delivery service company LBC Express Inc. committed as its principal sponsor in October 2009, the league kicked off as a premier tournament composed of several football teams around the nation.[31]

  • 2009–2011: LBC (LBC United Football League)

Founding members[edit]

The inaugural year of the league was held in 2010, and was originally composed of 16 local clubs. The 16 founding teams of the league are the following:

Diliman FC
Global FC
Green Archers United
Kaya FC

Loyola Agila
Mama Africa FC
Manila All-Japan
Manila Lions

Manila Nomads
Mendiola United
Philippine Air Force
Philippine Army

Philippine Navy
Sunken Garden
Union Manila
United South FC

Expansion year[edit]

After the end of 2011 United Football League season, AKTV Network became the new TV partner with the signing of a P150 million (~$3.4 million), 5-year deal with two live matches every week.[32] Seven new clubs also entered the league after the successful third season of United Football Cup. Agila FC, Cebu Queen City, Diliman, Forza FC, Laos FC, Pachanga and Team Socceroo are distributed in the UFL Division 2, which started on 14 January 2012.[33] Three clubs from the second division were also promoted to UFL Division 1, namely: Nomads, Pasargad, and Stallion FC.[34]

In December 2011, UFL president Randy Roxas said that they have entered into discussions with the Philippine Football Federation regarding the possibility of sending the league champions to the AFC President's Cup, a third-tier club competition that is run by the Asian Football Confederation.[35] In addition, it was also reported in 16 February 2013 that Pasargad would be the lone representative of the league and the Philippines in the 2013 AFC Futsal Club Championship qualifiers.[36]

In April 2012, the United Football League struck a deal to use the artificial pitch that will be constructed by real estate giant Megaworld Corporation at McKinley Hill in Taguig City. The field will be known as the McKinley Hill Football Field. Work on the football field is targeted to be completed by September just in time for the start of the new season in October. This will be followed by the construction of a grandstand that can accommodate 2,000 people which they aim to finish by middle of 2013.[37]

Further development[edit]

UFL president Randy Roxas announced in December 2012 the completion of the McKinley Hill football field in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig. According to Roxas, the $1-million artificial pitch will be the new home of the league starting the 2013 UFL season. The field was built in partnership with Megaworld Corporation, and is said to be up to FIFA standards.[38] The first two weeks of the tournament, which includes the opening games scheduled on 5 February 2013, will still be played at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, but most of the matches of the league will be played at the newly constructed artificial pitch after Chinese New Year.[39] The league started to use the facility, dubbed Emperador Stadium, in 9 February 2013.[40] The first league game in the stadium, Dolphins United versus Cebu Queen City United, got cancelled as the latter forfeited the match. The second match slated for the same day, Philippine Air Force against Nomads FC, became the first official league game in the stadium. Nomads FC won, 1–0, against Philippine Air Force.[41]

In an effort to hold matches outside Metro Manila, United Football League marketing manager Coco Torre confirmed in 30 January 2013 that the league is discussing with its broadcast partner, AKTV, the possibility of staging a few games in the provinces.[42] UFL assistant technical director Ritchie Gannaban further explained the possibility of staging at least two provincial matches during the second round of the tournament, which could be either played at the Cebu City Sports Complex, Cebu City or at Panaad Stadium, Bacolod City.[43]

In cooperation with the Philippine Football Federation, the league directed its referees to undergo a training module to better their decision making and player management. The training was facilitated by Football Association of Singapore committee member Augustine Arlando, a former FIFA match official, and Football Association national referee tutor Dave Roberts.[44]

Past league champions[edit]

Rank Club Number of titles Years of titles
2012, 2014
Philippine Air Force
2010, 2011

Note: Bold indicates clubs currently playing in the first division.

Results by year[edit]

Season Champion Runners-up Third place
Philippine Air Force Kaya Union FC
Philippine Air Force Global Philippine Army
Global Kaya Loyola Meralco Sparks
Stallion Global Loyola Meralco Sparks
Global Loyola Meralco Sparks Kaya

Current members[edit]

The following clubs will be competing in UFL Division 1 based on the recently concluded season:

Club Founded Head coach Team captain Kitmaker Shirt sponsor 2014 position
Ceres 2012 South Korea Cha Soungyooung Philippines Jason Cordova Adidas Ceres Liner Promoted, 1st in Division 2
Globala, b 2000 Scotland Leigh Manson Philippines Jason de Jong AtletA KIA 1st
Green Archers Uniteda, b 1998 Philippines Rodolfo Alicante Philippines Christian Pasilan LGR Athletic Globe Telecom 5th
Kayaa, b 1996 England Adam Reekie Philippines Alexander Borromeo LGR Athletic LBC Express, Inc. 3rd
Loyola Meralco Sparksa, b 2006 Scotland Simon McMenemy Philippines James Younghusband LGR Athletic Meralco 2nd
Manila Jeepney 2013 South Korea Kim Chul-Su Philippines Mark Alvin Valeroso LGR Athletic Cord Epoxy Promoted, 2nd in Division 2
Pachanga Diliman 1998 Philippines Noel Marcaida Italy Davide Cortina Umbro PLDT HOME Fibr–Petron 6th
Philippine Army GTIa, b, c 1960 Philippines Ricky Cain Philippines Roel Gener LGR Athletic Artificial Turf Sejung 7th
Stallion 2001 Philippines Ernest Nierras Philippines Ruben Doctora Jr. Mizuno Giligan's Island Bar and Grill 4th
Team Socceroo 2005 Philippines Franklin Cacacho Philippines Enzo Pinga LGR Athletic Vcargo worldwide 8th

For details on the current members of UFL Division 2, see here.

a: Founding member of the United Football League
b: Never been relegated from and only played in UFL Division 1
c: One of the original eight Filipino Premier League clubs

Former clubs[edit]


Most football clubs of the UFL use the 4,500 capacity Mckinley Hill Football Field as their main stadium.[40] Manila Nomads FC's home field, dubbed "Nomads Field," is in Parañaque. Primary venues used in the United Football League first division include the following:

Manila Taguig Makati
Rizal Memorial Football Stadium Emperador Stadium University of Makati Stadium
Capacity: 12,873[45] Capacity: 2,000[46] Capacity: 4,000[47][48]
Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium.jpg Emperadorstadium.jpg University of Makati.JPG
Muntinlupa Taguig Parañaque
Alabang Country Club Turf BGC Nomads Field
Capacity: N/A Capacity: N/A Capacity: 3,000[46]


Eligibility of foreign players[edit]

Starting the 2014 season, the UFL executive committee decided to implement a version of the Foreign player rule. Under such rule, a club may only field in a maximum of five foreign players on the pitch at any given time. However, two of the six remaining players on the pitch may still be foreigners provided that they are permanent residents of the Philippines for at least five years.[49] In the first year of its implementation, Manila Nomads had to voluntarily step down from UFL Division 1 to the second division due to the inability to comply with the foreign player rule.[50]

Golden ball award[edit]

The UFL Golden Ball Award is the league's equivalent for the Most Valuable Player award. The award has been given since the 2012 season after the league's expansion to two divisions. SpanishFilipino footballer Carli de Murga of Global was awarded the first Golden Ball for the first division. Freddy Gonzalez of Pachanga, on the other hand, won it the same year for the second division.[51]

2012 Philippines Carli de Murga Midfielder Global FC
2013 Spain Rufo Sánchez Forward Stallion FC
2014 Philippines Jason de Jong Midfielder Global FC

Golden boot winners[edit]

Season Player Club Goals
2010 Sudan Izzeldin El Habbib Kaya unknown
2011 Sudan Izzeldin El Habbib Global 10
2012 Philippines Phil Younghusband Loyola Meralco Sparks 23
2013 Spain Rufo Sánchez Stallion FC 18
2014 Philippines Mark Hartmann Global 27

Golden glove trophy[edit]

2012 Iran Saba Garmaroudi Kaya
2013 Ivory Coast Roland Sadia Global
2014 Ivory Coast Roland Sadia Global

For the list of UFL Division 2 honours, see here.

Broadcast partners[edit]

Official match ball[edit]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]