09 August 2012

Women`s football to build a Premier League

By Roy Moore

Women’s football will soon have its own league, similar to the UFL, which is expected to kick off early in 2013. The league will showcase the best talents in women’s football, and is also designed to aid the Philippine women’s national team, known as the Malditas, the team’s head coach Ernest Nierras said, in an upcoming episode of “FTW.”

The league will be made of six or seven teams which will play in a round-robin format three times to decide the champion. Those six or seven teams will be made up of the best players from the upcoming Women’s Super Cup, which will be contested starting August 19 between fourteen teams including Global, Loyola, Superstrikers, Sikat FC and a variety of UAAP teams including Ateneo, UST, FEU, UP and La Salle.

With the Super Cup showcasing the best of the already existing women’s clubs, owners of teams in the upcoming women’s league will get a chance to scout teams and players they want to form a new club from.

The names of these owners will be become apparent over the next month.

Ownership structure

With FIFA consulted from the earliest stages, the Women’s Super League is looking to be as professional as possible. The winner of the league format would be representing the Philippines in the AFC Champions League, against competition from other teams in Asia.

Six potential owners have already been identified and the ownership structure is different to other leagues in that they will look for clubs and players to buy during the Women’s Super Cup, to essentially start new teams, rather than allowing pre-existing teams to apply and join.

Malditas will be drafted

One of the reasons for this change in format, and one of the more exciting aspects of the league, is that the Malditas will be drafted. Rather than forming their own team, such as Malditas FC, the players of the national women’s football team would be evenly split between the six clubs. Each of the clubs would have a pick of the roughly thirty Malditas to be drafted so that they begin from a competitive starting place.

After the five rounds of picks, clubs can then trade with each other at will, adding a tactical element and strategic risk – something Coach Ernie was clearly excited about. In addition, National team players will also have a ‘salary cap’ which acts more as a minimum wage than a ceiling as it guarantees that the Malditas will earn at least a certain salary rather than limiting their earning potential.

After the first year of drafting, however, the league will return to the more usual format of signing rights which characterizes European leagues – teams negotiate with each other to buy and sell players with no draft. Coach Ernie explained that a draft would be needed at the start so that one rich team couldn’t just buy up all the Malditas and stack the league – the draft will ensure the league’s competitiveness for the first season and then clubs can manage the transfers afterwards.

Improving the National team

Coach Ernest Nierras was eager to impress that this would “create a market for the Malditas” and lead to incentives for other players to strive to join the national team. The regular football for the women’s players would also improve their fitness and team cohesion for future tournaments.

As coach of the national team Ernest Nierras will not be part of any of the clubs and will remain on the technical side of the league. He hopes, however, that this will massively improve women’s football and make it more competitive with other countries in the region and further off.

One exciting development could well be the inclusion of foreign players, with no limit at the start to how many foreign players a team can field, as countries such as Brazil do not have a women’s league. The matches will be played on several pitches, including the Bonifacio Turf, La Salle, Ateneo and Rizal High School pitches. - AMD, GMA News

1 comment:

  1. A couple of observations:

    This league is being patterned on the franchise model which is what they use here in the US, and even includes the pattern of drafting the women's national team players to the different teams.

    Ernie sounds very ambitious in setting up what looks like a professional or semi pro league from the start instead of starting with amateur teams that eventually become more professional as they develop like those found in Europe and other parts of the world outside of North America. They even have plans of competing in the AFC Champion's league against big monied teams from more developed countries like Japan, Australia and S Korea. They also plan apparently to hire foreign players when the league at this point is still unproven.

    They seem to be following the path of the US of using a topdown approach to establishing a women's pro league instead of starting small and slowly developing their league. In both instances that the US tried this approach within the past decade or so, both leagues collapsed as their financial model did not live up to expectations. The US women's league had the advantage of players from the Women's World Cup championship in their teams and had the best women players in the world playing in their league and they still couldn't make it work so I find it hard to believe that this approach will work in the Philippines.

    Football is quite new in the Philippines and I think not only this approach very risky but at this early stage in Philippine football development, it will also eat up some of the funding and sponsorship that would normally be spent on the men's professional league and the various national men's and women's teams. Basically they will be competing with the UFL for marketing and sponsorship attention just like the US women's professional league tried to do when they refused to cooperate with MLS and it got them nowhere except financial ruin.

    I project if they push through with what Coach Nierras is planning to do is that most of the funds used in this project will go towards expensive foreign players so that they can be competitive enough to play in the AFC Champion's League and this players which are unlike our Fil foreigners who are potential members of the men's team, will require higher salaries which will prove to be an excessive burden on the viability of the league, funds which would have been better utilized developing the sport in our country especially at the grassroots level.

    Frankly the only way I can see this plan working is if they get funding from FIFA and foreign sponsors as a showcase for them to show their support for women's football. Even then this probably will come in the form of seed money to get the league going and not something that will be sustained. In the long run, they will just end up cannibalizing the limited local sponsorship and marketing resources available to the sport of football in the Philippines at this time.