The 2014-15 United Football League season officially gets underway on September 20, with the introduction of the new FA League Cup to the Philippine club football calendar. The new competition pushes the start of the UFL Cup and League to January 2015, synchronizing with the rest of the South East Asian footballing schedule.
“We are very excited with the new format changes for UFL season 2014-15. Outside of our main objective to eventually align our league schedules with those of our ASEAN neighbors, we are also continuously looking at ways to accelerate the growth of the sport domestically and make it more exciting for our growing fan base,” said UFL President Randy Roxas.
The new tournament includes the 20 teams that form the two divisions in the UFL. It begins with a qualifying round for the 2nd Division’s bottom eight clubs, with the best four moving on to a 16-team Group stage. After a single round, the top two teams that emerge from the four groups move on to the single-match knockout stages, culminating in a November 6 final. All matches are scheduled at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
In consideration of the Philippine National Football Team’s busy end to 2014, the FA League Cup kicks off shortly after the Peace Cup, and ends before the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup, avoiding any scheduling conflicts. This was agreed upon after the UFL met with Azkals manager Dan Palami, and head coach Thomas Dooley earlier in the week.
“This is the first time that the Azkals and UFL leadership have actually sat together to jointly prepare a schedule that considers the mutual requirements of both entities. With this stronger cooperation, borne out of our passion for the beautiful game, it can only bode well for the growth of the UFL and the Azkals; as well as Philippine football as a whole,” said Men’s National Football Team manager Dan Palami. “In behalf of the national team, I would like to thank the UFL for sharing our vision of bringing local football to the bigger stage of Asia and hopefully the world.”
The recent meeting between the UFL and the Philippine Men’s National Football Team further strengthens the bond between the two pillars of Philippine Football.
“When Coach [Thomas] Dooley arrived in February, his first order of business was to sit down with UFL management and owners of UFL clubs to share his vision and objectives as far as the national team was concerned. This alignment of schedules and objectives resulted in more UFL talent being represented in the national team. Recent international results, and FIFA’s latest ranking which sees the Azkals as the highest ranked ASEAN team, is a clear indication that this working relationship has brought about positive results. Having said that, we are very pleased to have this alignment meeting again for the coming UFL season. The UFL will continue to contribute what it can for the national interest,” said Roxas.
The official FA League Cup draw, which will reveal the groupings, takes place on September 15, a day after all player movement is finalized in the first of three available transfer windows in the UFL season.