After the success of the 2020 bubble tournament of the Philippines Football League sponsored by Qatar Airways, talk has been rife that more teams want to join the country’s growing top-flight division.
Laos and Loyola are currently fixing the necessary documentation to formalize their entry to the country’s professional league for men’s football.
The league is eyeing an April 2021 start of its season with the Copa Paulino Alcantara. PFL Commissioner Coco Torre stated that both Laos and Loyola can potentially mark their returns to competitive football within that time frame.
“Both clubs are targeting to join as soon as possible – the first competition to be organized this year,” explained the Bacolod native.
If Laos and Loyola do make the cut, the PFL will have eight teams in the season – assuming the participation of the Azkals Development Team. With the league opting for a single-round robin format last year – a change from an arrangement that included playoffs to crown the champion – it is remaining flexible to adapt to the current circumstances.
“We will see which format will be the most sensible with consideration to sporting factors, financial capacity, and government directives relating to COVID-19,” said Torre.
While Laos and Loyola have been the ones named, the De La Salle University-Manila alumnus divulged that other entities have queried about putting up their teams in the PFL. However, these have all been casual conversations so far.
“Yes, there are other teams who informally expressed their interest. They will need to undergo the core process of Club Licensing, to which their application shall be reviewed and then afterward deliberated by an independent body,” said Torre.
“Clubs which have long-term plans and want to join the PFL may initially reach out to us through our soc med accounts or through the PFF website/email.”
With the national government’s vaccination program finally starting this month, there is hope that the country can finally recover this horrible COVID-19 pandemic. While the goal is to breathe life into local football in the short term, the league has an ambitious scheme in the long-term.
“The long term plan is to return to the home and away format which shall be organized by the clubs once they are ready. For now, we are sticking with a centralized format, which is organized by the PFL.”