During the draw for the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara that was held in the PFF House of Football last October 20, the Philippines Football League touched on its immediate plans for the growth of the country’s top-tier professional league tournament.
PFL Commissioner Coco Torre himself was the one who gave a high-level discussion on what the league’s plans are in front of key representatives of the Copa Paulino Alcantara participants comprising of the following: sponsorship, partnership with industry leaders, league expansion, referee development, and income generation and brand building.
Recent reports have been published that Qatar Airways are set for a sponsorship role beginning with the 2019 Copa Alcantara until the upcoming 2020 PFL season.
Although some of the specifics of the momentous partnership are still in the process of being ironed out during the time of the draw, the development could pave way for future sponsorships that are being worked on by the PFL management Liga Futbol, Inc. (LFI).
Partnerships with overseas leagues
As PFL management continues in its efforts on multiple fronts in growing the competition as a whole, it aims to forge partnerships with industry leaders in the region.
One key development in this is PFL working with J.League – one of the trail-blazers in Asia – when it comes to club education and other technical matters on and off the pitch with the possibility of future collaborative efforts with other league football entities as well.
“We sought help and guidance from J.League (on this particular aspect),” Commissioner Torre shared.
It is to note that J.League has recently been in the Philippines for a separate advocacy where the league reached out to their chosen community in Quezon City where they held a football clinic and donated kits to the children.
During the recently concluded 2019 season the league was comprised of seven competing clubs in a hectic campaign which required clubs facing each other four times.
Commissioner Torre looked at the possibility of expanding the league, although it will be dependent on the number of clubs competing and the licensing requirements for new ones.
Another more possible approach is expanding the pool in the Copa Alcantara. The league commissioner shared that PFL along with Ang Liga’s Coach Aris Caslib are exploring on connecting the two leagues beginning with awarding top-performing Ang Liga teams slots to compete in the cup.
As of this moment, the avenue for expanding the competitors in the Copa Alcantara could be the more feasible route given that the competition serves as the national cup directly under PFF’s leadership, so not only will it be open to PFL and Ang Liga, as it actually is a national competition that could be opened up for champions of other non-professional leagues.
Another aspect that the league is looking at is the continued improvement in the officiating through referee development.
Quality of in-game officiating has been a key thrust of the entire footballing sphere worldwide, at all levels, with the advent of VAR at the highest level of competitions as the most obvious testament to this.
Although, Philippine football is still far from having the resources to introduce VAR, improving the overall level of refereeing through trainings is at a high priority for the PFL.
Income generation and brand building
One of the most crucial in any organized sport is its sustainability and income generation plays a crucial role.
Methods that are currently being looked into are ticketing system and merchandise through the building up of the PFL brand and, to an extent, the Copa Paulino Alcantara.
Though not much has been divulged yet on the details and methodology of the approach with regards to the brand development, another thing that was emphasized as part of implementing a ticket system is the infrastructure readiness.
For now out of the three venues used in the recently concluded 2019 PFL, only Binan Football Stadium has the readiness to implement paid in-venue viewership. Aboitiz Pitch in Lipa still has to be assessed due to its currently open-nature in terms of accessing the venue, while Rizal Memorial Stadium is still in the process of completing its renovation for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Infrastructure has been one of the main focus right now as part of developing football in Philippines especially when the topic has been put in the spotlight during the visit of FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Metro Manila a few days ago.
Photo credit: Philippines Football League