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Seven teams vie to be PH club football’s best in inaugural PPL season

On March 1, 2019, the Philippine Premier League (PPL) formally announced that seven teams will compete in its first season which is set to begin on March 30.

Three of the clubs are from the now defunct PFL, or Philippines Football League, namely defending champions Ceres-Negros, cup champions Kaya Iloilo, and Stallion Laguna.

One club comes in as reincarnation and a rebrand of a financially beleaguered club, Global Cebu, in the form of United Makati after a change of name and sponsorship.

What’s interesting though are the addition of three clubs: Green Archers United, Mendiola FC 1991, and Philippine Air Force.

These three organizations may be newcomers to the PPL, but they have very much been a part of competitive club football scene in the country in the recently past especially during the United Football League (UFL) era.

Green Archers United was founded by football players of De La Salle University in 1998. The club is about to join the fray in the professional level with much optimism after emerging as convincing champions in the semi-professional Weekend Futbol League’s Elite Division in late 2018.

Meanwhile, Mendiola FC has been in existence since 1991 (as shown in their updated formal name of Mendiola FC 1991) being closely affiliated with San Beda University and its well-known football varsity programs.

The club might have been on hiatus for quite a bit when it comes to competing in the semi-professional and professional levels after their forays in the UFL, but such a situation adds mystery and anticipation on how they will compete in their return to the domestic top-flight.

Lastly, the Philippine Air Force FC returns to the pitch once again after being one of the major forces and constants in Philippine football through the years particularly in the early phase of the UFL.

Producing homegrown football heroes such as Ian Araneta and Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong, The Airmen garnered a solid following back in the day and it will be exciting to see such a core of supporters back again on the terraces to be the 12th man of the storied club.

The Philippine Premier League kicks off its season on Saturday, March 30, with a double header at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with the first match at 4:00PM while the second fixture will be at 7:00PM. The 7:00PM match will be shown live on ESPN5 Plus and will also be available via online stream.

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Out of the ashes of Global, United Makati rises

In a press conference held last February 12, 2019, a club ceased to exist as Global [Cebu] FC as a new name comes into fruition in the identity of United Makati FC.

Despite the complete rebrand, with the relocation and the change of name, the club opted to keep intact its history acknowledging the Global FC past.

In a Facebook post, a new crest has been unveiled as well with the three championships achieved by its then almighty predecessor still present.

Along with the rebrand came the pressing issue on the unpaid wages of its players which, in a report by Beatrice Go of Rappler, is set to be addressed in the next months as per owner and CEO, Mark Jarvis.

Also tackled in this development, which may definitely have given a hand to addressing the payroll concerns, is the new partnership with international sports marketing agency MMZ Sportz Asia which is currently headed by CEO Eric Gottschalk.

It may still be very early at this moment, but with these developments, the embattled club definitely has shown some life with a significant degree of optimism and hope in the immediate future.

Global Cebu, before its recent challenges, has been a major force in Philippine club football in the past, winning three league titles, and being a regular participant in the AFC Cup since Filipino clubs became eligible to compete in AFC-sanctioned continental club competitions.

Photo credit: United Makati FC