THE Asean Football Federation announced that the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 will be played from April 11 to May 8 next year with the intention of holding a home-and-away format during the new schedule of the tournament.
The AFF said it will hold the home-and-away format only if the health situation in the region improves for the safety of the players, coaches, and fans.
AFF president Major General Khiev Sameth said the dates were also determined to accommodate domestic league schedules.
“We are delighted with the positive support that we have had from our Member Associations and that we have been able to find a suitable window next year to hold our most highly anticipated tournament,” said Sameth.
“While we are well aware that the fight against the global pandemic is not over, we are cautiously optimistic for the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 to take place in its full format as we hope to deliver the best of Asean in the tournament next year,” he added.
The AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 was postponed due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation. It was supposed to be held November 23 to December 31.
“The AFF also hopes that the announcement of the 2021 tournament dates will provide some clarity in planning for our commercial partners, including sponsors and media broadcasters, at a time of uncertainty. AFF and our Member Associations would like to express gratitude to all our fans, players, coaches, officials, media and other partners for their unwavering support and commitment despite these challenging times, and look forward to the AFF Suzuki Cup unifying the whole of South East Asia when we are able to come together again,” said Sameth.
The AFF Suzuki Cup is the most prestigious football competition in Southeast Asia. It was in the same competition where the Philippine Azkals gained foothold in the region following their impressive semifinal finish in 2010.
THE Games and Amusements Board (GAB) has blacklisted Global FC for its alleged non-payment of salaries of players and employees last August.
The decision was meted after Global FC and team manager Mark Jarvis to answer the complaint GAB issued against the club. The motu proprio complaint indicated that the club’s licenses will be revoked and suspended if management fails to act on the alleged violation.
The blacklist order was issued on September 9, but the club is still given a chance to explain why they should not be meted with such penalty.
“We are unhappy about what happened and we are acting on the complaint of the players whose livelihood and careers have been affected. I hope this serves as a deterrent and lesson to others who may do the same. GAB's mandate is to look after the welfare of our professional athletes and we intend to do just that,” said GAB chairman Baham Mitra.
SPIN learned that Global FC owes its players and employees a total of P5.894 million.
“Global FC management should understand that it is our duty to protect professional athletes, particularly when there are allegations of non-payment of compensation. Thus, to avoid legal actions in court, we urge Global FC to comply with the provisions of the contract they entered into,” added Mitra.
Almost half of the current squad of the Philippine national football team swing back to action for their clubs as the Thai League 1 finally gets the green light to resume their competition starting Saturday.
Suspended last March following the coronavirus pandemic, the league returns in the Southeast Asian country that has recorded just 3,454 COVID-19 cases including seven fresh cases last Thursday.
Southeast Asian Games campaigner Justin Baas was one of the last players to sign during the transfer window, completing his move from Dutch side AZ Alkmaar reserve team to Ratchaburi Mitr Phol last week.
Baas’ move increases the Filipino contingent in the Thai League to 12 players.
“I’m excited to play in Thailand and quite eager to prove myself here,” said the 19-year-old Baas who has started in the last four senior matches against Guam, Maldives China and Syria.
Baas, who is adept at playing at midfield and in defense, joins fellow Filipinos Luke Woodland and Javier Patiño in the Ratchaburi side that plays Azkals goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard and Bangkok United on Saturday.
Suphanburi has two Filipinos in its lineup in former De La Salle U goalkeeper Patrick Deyto and Patrick Reichelt. Both Deyto and Reichelt stayed in Thailand throughout the lockdown, but are now raring to play for the first time in six months.
“It’s been quite awhile, but I really have high hopes to do well for the club this season,” said Reichelt, who was sidelined by an injury early in the year.
Defending champion Buriram United has midfielder Kevin Ingreso in its squad, while powerhouse Muangthong United boasts of Daisuke Sato, who is raring to bounce back after struggling with an injury last year.
Muangthong also has Azkals prospect Jessie Curran whom they have loaned to Udon Thani in Thai League 2.
Also looking to raise their stock this season are Iain Ramsay who is suiting up for Prachuap FC and Amani Aguinaldo who was signed by Trat early this year. Veteran defenders Carlie de Murga (Chonburi) and Alvaro Silva (BG Pathum United) are also hoping to make their mark for their clubs this season.
The Philippines Football League (PFL) set an optimistic target to open their season 30 days from the resumption of training on September 2.
Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday morning, Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Nonong Araneta and PFL Commissioner Coco Torre addressed concerns regarding the country's top football league.
The PFL's kickoff is dependent on the next few weeks after football clubs finally received the green light to train at the PFF's National Training Center.
According to Araneta, the PFL will seek approval from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to kick-off the competition when the training period goes well.
"We have to look first to how the training is going on regarding the observance of the safety protocols and the venue itself, the safety protocols of the venue," Araneta said. "Maybe after half a month or 20 days -- if everything goes well -- then we have to apply again to IATF, to GAB on the resumption of the league itself."
"Yung consideration for the approval is dependent on the success on how we conduct the trainings," Torre added. "So we really hope na zero infections talaga tayo during the training para ma approve ng IATF yung application to kick off the league."
The PFL is hopeful there will be enough time to hold a double-round robin competition with six clubs. The format could still be changed depending on how much time the league has to complete the season.
Whether or not the entire league has to go into a bubble for the season is still being studied by the organizers.
"First option is that we go with a bubble, let's say we do the bubble for one month, yung competition would be one month duration," Torre said. "The second option to combat COVID-19 is frequency of testing."
Torre went on to point out that while the NBA has set a good example through their implementation of a bubble, the majority of football leagues around the world continued without having to go into a bubble.
"NBA did a bubble, but yung other football leagues didn't do a bubble," he added.
There are six teams expected to compete during the 2020 season, namely the rebranded United City FC, Kaya FC, the Azkals Development Team, Mendiola FC 1991, Stallion Laguna FC, and the newly-formed Maharlika FC.
As of posting time, Maharlika FC, which is founded by former Philippine Azkal Anton del Rosario, is awaiting the approval of the PFF's First Instance Body to be granted a license to compete this season. The newly-minted club is expected to take the place of Global FC, who lost their spot due to their inability to fulfill their financial obligations.
- The PFF will receive FIFA funding for COVID relief through US$ 1.5 million. Part of the relief will be used for the resumption of football, while US$ 500,000 is earmarked for women's football.
- Araneta expects the 2020 AFC Cup competition to be delayed further due to the rise in COVID cases in Vietnam. Despite the delay, Araneta said the AFC is looking for a new venue to complete the season this year.
- AFC looking to finish the 2020 season due to sponsorship commitments.
MANILA – Maharlika Football Club is dead serious in its bid to secure a license to compete in the 2020 Philippines Football League after unveiling some of its players and its head coach.
Maharlika FC team owner Anton del Rosario announced in a virtual press conference that retired Filipino-Dutch booter Bongbong Roxy Dorlas was named as the team’s head coach.
Dorlas was a former member of the Philippine men’s football team from 2008 to 2010 and also represented the country in futsal in 2010. He suited up for San Beda in college and played for Mendiola, Loyola Meralco Sparks and Global FC.
“We brought in a coach that would fit with our vision and our core for the team,” Del Rosario said. “We believe that Roxy can make things happen for Maharlika FC.”
Among the players who were announced to play for the team were Del Rosario, Simon Greatwich, Cedric Martinez-Hodreal, Joaco Canas, Enrique Ortiz, Julian Del Valle, and Jerry Barbaso.
“We want to build a sustainable platform, a sustainable team, a good program for pro football,” Maharlika FC team manager Choy Calunsod said. “We are here for a long run. We want to be the team of the people, of the masses.”/PN
MANILA – British-Australian Trevor Morgan has been named as the head coach of the United City Football Club, which took over the franchise of defending Philippines Football League champion Ceres-Negros FC.
Morgan, who most recently headed the Bhutan National Team that won a number of silverware in the Indian Super League, said he looks forward to handling the United City FC.
“I cannot wait to get onto the training field with the players and look forward to working with a group of high-quality players and staff,” said Morgan, who is also a decorated football manager.
“I have been given a wonderful opportunity to help take an already very successful team to the next level, and I will give everything I have to help improve our team and to further establish Philippine Football as a force to be reckoned with in Asia,” he added.
Trevor served as head coach for Sorrento Soccer Club in Western Australia and was also tapped to mentor Sengkang Punggol FC in Singapore in the Singtel League Cup. He also served as assistant coach for Hull City FC in the English Premiere League.
As a football player, he appeared in over 400 League and Cup games in the United Kingdom (UK), whilst scoring over two 200 goals, plying his trade from 1980-1994.
“His exposure to various leagues has prepared him very well for his new role as the head coach of United City Football Club, which suits very well the ambition that this club has,” said United City FC co-founder Eric Gottschalk.
“We are excited and proud to have him. Trevor will bring the necessary experience onto the pitch,” he added. “We have high ambitions for the local league and the AFC Cup and we believe Trevor is the right coach since he is no stranger to Asian football.”/PN
The new owners of United City FC, formerly known as Ceres-Negros FC, aim to avoid the fate suffered practically by all local professional soccer clubs over the past decade, intending the club to be a viable and profitable organization over the long haul.
“The players are receiving a salary and the money has to come from somewhere. It just cannot come from the owners pumping money into a club budget,” United City co-founder Eric Gottschalk said in a virtual press conference held last Wednesday.
“We need to bring other stakeholders to the table,” added the Dubai-based MMC Sports Marketing chief executive officer, revealing the various possible revenue streams for the club during the briefing that lasted for slightly over an hour.
Gottschalk explained that, unlike the club’s previous owner, Bacolod-based businessman Leo Rey Yanson, who bankrolled the entire team, “the (present) club is not owned by an individual but owned by a group of people that has been set up with a proper corporate structure.
“The club cannot be dependent on just an individual. I think that this will give sustainability, credibility and confidence that this football club is there to stay in the long run.”
It is common knowledge that Yanson’s family-owned transport company, one of the biggest in the country, was badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was cited as a key reason why he was prompted to relinquish ownership and management of the multi-titled club to the new group of investors headed by Gottschalk, who used to be marketing man for the embattled Global FC until resigning early this year.
The Games and Amusements Board and the Philippine Football Federation, the organizer of the Philippines Football League, has called Global FC’s attention over its failure to pay the salaries of its players running into thousands of pesos.
Gottshcalk said that one of keys to making the new club viable was “we need to try to unlock all the commercial opportunities that there are in football.”
“Sponsorship and advertising are the obvious ones but during a pandemic just right now it is going to be a tight task,” Gottschalk acknowledged.
“We are in discussion with some brands, because we obviously want to unveil a shirt sponsor,” he added. “And before the season starts we are open to negotiations on that side. But what we are doing is trying to unlock other opportunities such as the merchandise side of things.”
Among the potential sources of income, he said, was United City’s crest and logo, “which we will make available to club fans.”
He also disclosed that “we might also become the first club in the Philippines to have a formal membership program, similar to what they have done to clubs in Europe where you have a membership card and have some benefits.
“Hopefully we can begin this formal program before the start of the season once attendance is allowed. This has been in progress for several weeks now.”
The concept is also similar to the season memberships sold by clubs in the NBA to their fans, who enjoy perks and privileges different from match-day ticket holders.
Gottschalk said the club was also exploring the possibility of charging tickets to United City matches, something virtually unheard of in domestic club competition.
“It doesn’t mean that tickets need to be overpriced but we are staging matches, having expenses and having entertainment to the community,” he said “, (so) then the community in return should also participate in a ticketing concept.
“I believe if you match-day tickets for free they lose a certain value.”
Both income schemes might not be feasible in the meantime since the PFF has announced that the PFL games will be crowd-free once the league kicks off play at the PFF national training field in Carmona, Cavite.
The club is likewise bent on monetizing its huge potential fan base by partnering with a European company "that will enable us to be one the frontrunners in sponsorship and advertising income through social media,” according to Gottschalk.
“It will really open new assets in selling for football clubs and football operations,” he said, adding that he was willing to share the plan with other PFL clubs.
At present there were no plans yet where United City will have its home base of operations, he said, stressing that the priority was “to build on the image and identity of the club. Then it is almost secondary where the actual teams will be based.”
With the team’s roster, led by Azkal team captain Stephan Schrock, complete, Gottschalk said that they would unveil the team kit next week as well as announcing the club’s new coach.
United City’s new owners failed to come to terms with Yugoslavian mentor Ristov Vidakovic, who piloted the Busmen to three successful seasons since 2017, according to general manager Ace Bright, prompting the club to look for a competent replacement.