In separate announcements on Thursday, United City and the Philippine Football Federation have confirmed that the former have backed out from the second half of the 2022-2023 Philippines Football League amidst financial concerns.
This comes after several of the club’s top players have moved in search of greener pastures. These include the likes of Alan Robertson, Kenshiro Daniels, Hikaru Minegishi, Mark Hartmann, Andreas Esswein, Pete Forrosuelo, Amirbek Dzhuraboev, and Curt Dizon.
“United City Football Club (UCFC) would like to announce that it has requested the Philippines Football Federation (PFF) to grant the Club ‘nonparticipation’ for the remaining 2022/23 Philippines Football League (PFL) while the Clubs awaits the outcome of legal proceedings in Singapore against its investor Riau Capital Live (RCL),” read the club’s statement.
“UCFC had signed a major agreement with RCL, a Singapore-based real estate & sports investment entity in mid-2021, which the same company finally defaulted under in October 2022,” it continued.
“Since RCL also failed to honor the agreed final settlement deadlines earlier this month, it has now forced UCFC to temporarily discontinue its professional football team operations and to withdraw its team from the remainder of the 2022/23 PFL season.”
There is still no word, though, if the club can immediately join next season’s PFL or the upcoming Copa Paulino Alcantara. By the end of the first round, United City sat in second place in the standings with 24 points behind seven wins, three draws, and one defeat.
For now, the club will face battles outside the pitch to be able to return to action on it. It will be an uphill climb but there is a commitment to see things through.
“UCFC would like to state that all players and staff were already released from their contracts immediately after the first half of the 2022/23 PFL season and that all but one have signed new agreements with other clubs in the Philippines and abroad,” continued the statement.
“Following its request for ‘nonparticipation’, UCFC has committed to the PFF that legal actions are being pursued to retrieve the investment and to settle the Club’s current liabilities while UCFC intends to return to PFF competitions for the 2023/24 season.
“The Club would like to extend its tremendous gratitude to the players, staff, and management for its professional handling of this very stressful period of time during which the team still managed to win the Copa Alcantara and to finish the first half of the 2022/23 PFL season in second place and to wish everyone the very best in their respective new careers,” it continued.
On the side of the PFF and the PFL, there is a sense of sadness because of this latest development. It is always a big blow to Philippine football whenever a club folds up and there is hope that United City will find a way out.
Domestic football has already lost the likes of Meralco Manila and Global and this just shows how hard it is to own a club in the current landscape.
“We understand the situation affecting United City FC that forced them to withdraw from the league,” said PFF president Mariano Araneta. “We hope that the club and its management are able to bounce back from this predicament.”
“The case of UCFC is part of the realities on the ground, which must be addressed,” said PFL Commissioner Coco Torre. “We commend UCFC for the high standards they have set earlier on, but we must also consider the economics surrounding football as a business.”