Philippines Football League
|Organising body||Liga Futbol Inc.|
|Number of teams||6|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Domestic cup(s)||Copa Paulino Alcantara|
AFC Champions League|
Ceres–Negros (2nd title) |
Ceres–Negros (2 title)|
|2018 Philippines Football League|
The Philippines Football League (PFL) is a Filipino professional association football league, sanctioned by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF). It is the Philippines' highest level of men's club football, supplanting the United Football League, which was previously the de facto top-tier league in the country.
The PFL's inaugural season was launched on April 21, 2017.
Following the success of the Philippines national team in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, Philippine football experienced a renaissance. With no existing national football league, the Metro Manila-based United Football League (UFL) became the de facto top-tier league in the Philippines. Under the guidance of the Football Alliance (FA) in partnership with United Football Clubs Association (UFCA), the UFL flourished. However, the PFF expressed the need to have a nationwide, community-based football league that is at par with the standards set by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). The UFL, which is under the National Capital Region Football Association, cannot be considered as a national league.
With the goal of establishing a truly nationwide professional football league in the Philippines, the PFF launched the PFF National League Task Force on December 2, 2013. The task force was led by Filipino economist Bernie Villegas, and is composed of UFL President Randy Roxas, AFC Deputy General Secretary and Competition Director Windsor John, Filipino FIFA official Domeka Garamendi, AFC Kick-off Program Director Yogesh Desai, UFL Commissioner Bonnie Ladrido, ABS-CBN's Dino Laurena, former PFF' General Secretary Cyril Dofitas and Gelix Mercader. The task force was tasked to do market research studies to determine the possible cities or regions where participating football clubs can be based, as well as assisting clubs in the Philippines to conform to AFC club licensing regulations. The PFF initially set a goal to launch the national league in two to three years from the inception of the task force.
Nielsen was tasked to conduct a study in 2015, where they identified 13 key localities throughout the Philippines as viable home venues for participating clubs in the PFL. Among the factors considered were existing infrastructures, accessibility, capacity of fans to pay, the existence of sponsors, and fan appreciation of the sport. Each applicant club was asked to nominate a home stadium based in the locality of their choosing.
The name "Philippines Football League" was the most-preferred name for the league in a Nielsen survey which covered interviews of 5,000 people nationwide. Other choices included P-League, Maharlika League, Liga Pilipina, and Philippine Premier League.
The Philippines Football League was officially announced on September 7, 2016 and will replace the UFL as the Philippines' top tier football league. At least six teams from all over the Philippines was planned to be part of the PFL, with clubs from the UFL invited to join. Interested clubs were presented with the PFF's Club Licensing Regulations, and were given until December 2016 to formally apply to join the PFL. The league competition was slated to begin in either the late March or early April in 2017.
By April 1, 2017, the PFF confirmed the participation of 8 clubs - Ceres–Negros, Davao Aguilas, Global Cebu, Ilocos United, JPV Marikina, Kaya FC–Makati, Loyola Meralco Sparks, and Stallion Laguna.
The official launching of the PFL happened on April 21, 2017 at the Shangri-La at the Fort in Taguig while the first match of the inaugural season is set to be played on May 6, 2017. The program was started by economist and PFL Task Force Chairman, Bernardo Villegas and ended by PFF President Mariano Araneta.
The PFL will follow a home-and-away, double round-robin format. The top four teams will advance to the play-off round dubbed as the "Finals Series" to determine the champions of the league. A knockout cup competition will also be contested between the PFL's participating clubs, with matches interspersed within the league schedule.
For its inaugural season, the PFL will only have one division. The PFF expressed its hopes to form a second division as the league expands, with a system of promotion and relegation with the PFL to be put in place. The UFL has expressed its openness to serve as the second tier competition or youth league to the PFL.
- Total titles won by region
|Region||Number of titles||Clubs|
|Negros Occidental||Ceres–Negros (2)|
- By City / Town
|City / Town||Championships||Clubs|
The Philippines Football League, along with the PFF Cup, is managed by Liga Futbol Inc.. Singapore-based Red Card Global, a sports marketing agency has exclusive commercial rights to the PFL. Each club will have to pay a franchise fee to participate in the league. Reportedly in April 2017, the franchise fee is pegged at $500,000 by the PFF which can be paid by member clubs within a period of five years.
The league is professional in nature and not a developmental league. The clubs will have a share of the league's broadcast revenues and sponsorship and each club will be assisted by the league in securing their own sponsors.
All PFL clubs are required under the PFF Club Licensing Regulations to have a name that includes the name of their home locality. The clubs are also required to have nicknames, crests, and colors based on the unique characteristics of their home locality.
Players and salaries
Participating clubs are allowed to have a minimum 25 and a maximum of 30 players. Reportedly in September 2016, only four foreigners are to be allowed per club, with at least one foreigner coming from an AFC country. On January 17, 2017, it was reported that this foreign player limit rule is yet to be finalized by the PFF.
All participating clubs in the PFL are required to commit to the organization and development of at least two youth teams, an under-18 and an under-15. The clubs' youth teams are required to participate in competitions organized by the Philippine Football Federation.
The clubs of the PFL are required to have a certified home stadium either through ownership of the stadium or having an active contract with the owners of the stadium. Likewise, all clubs are required to have access to or own a training field and facility.
The Philippine Football Federation had an agreement with the People's Television Network to broadcast matches of the league which was signed in April 2017 though the network coverage of the league didn't last at least half a season. Matches since then were live streamed through the MyCujoo online platform.
On February 22, 2018, the league had signed an agreement with Sportradar which would enable it livestream matches through Sportradar’s Over-The-Top (OTT) platform. In April 2018, Liga Futbol Inc. approved a budget to secure a broadcasting partner for the 2018 season.
- The home stadium of the club is located in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, a nearby town. For administrative and marketing purposes, the home city of Ilocos United is designated as "Vigan".
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