Villaflor: Costly clubs

Noel Villaflor
·2 min read

A POST in a Facebook group asked a number of interesting questions about the Philippine Football League’s immediate future.

As a football follower from Cebu, I found one question that stood out from the PFL Fans United post: “Will Leylam FC finally join the league?”

I showed a club insider the question, and he said it’s not going to happen any time soon, especially with the pandemic situation that has taken its toll on many businesses, big and small.

Licensing requirements notwithstanding, the cost of participating in the national league is burdensome.

The question about the Cebu-based club joining the PFL first circulated in November last year, but as much as Leylam wanted to join, the logistical and financial challenges just seemed too daunting.

My source, who requested not to be named, said that in the absence of corporate sponsors or partners, monthly expenses would run in the millions.

For airfare alone: at a modest P4,000 round trip fare per player, the cost for 25 players and staff would total P100,000 per week during away matches.

That’s P400,000 a month just for air travel expenses plus accommodation, not to mention day-to-day expenses and salaries, among many others.

With the current situation, my source said, it would probably take three to five years more for Leylam to join the PFL.

But if not in the league, one way clubs like Leylam can participate in nationwide football is to turn the Copa Paulino Alcantara or PFL Cup into a regional competition with winners and runners up of regional Cups competing in a knockout home and away national finals series, an idea my source welcomed.

But as with the Cup’s initial plans of becoming more inclusive, one of the roadblocks that new participants face is complying even with minimum licensing requirements for clubs.

This year’s Cup has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so if the PFL organizers and the Philippine Football Federation can sort this out for the next edition, perhaps this is one way talent-laden clubs like Leylam FC can face off with the big guns of Philippine football.