Commissioner Bernie Sumayao comments on Davao Aguilas exit, state of Philippine Premier League
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 17, 2018 03:39 PM
“The PPL is not a reincarnation of the UFL, PFL or any other previous leagues. It is a new, neutral, independent league whose main objective is to contribute to the development of football in the country."
Not even a month into his new job as the commissioner of the Philippine Premier League (PPL) - the Philippine football club league that will take the place of the Philippines Football League or PFL - Bernie Sumayao is already facing some challenges, the latest being the folding of the Davao Aguilas FC Football club.
It was reported in early December that the Davao-based club, which features Azkals stars Phil and James Younghusband among others, would be withdrawing from the newly-rebranded club league.
Sumayao stated that he had recieved and accepted Davao's request for withdrawal.
“I have been informed about the withdrawal of the Davao Aguilas, and have received it with a heavy heart. When an important team departs the league, it is always a cause of concern."
Davao finished second-runners up in the 2018 PFL tournament, behind only Kaya FC-Iloilo and two-time champions Ceres-Negros FC.
With Davao's exit however, Sumayao shared that there are those that are interested in participating in the PPL.
"However, we have also been approached by a number of teams that have expressed strong interest in joining the PPL. We are currently evaluating the merits of each applicant."
Sumayao continued by saying that he knew exactly what he was getting into by taking over the Philippine club football scene.
"When I first approached the PFF about taking over the reins of the Philippine Football League, I knew about the difficult challenges that it was facing. I felt, like most football fans, that the league was at a crossroads. There was no revenue being generated, no national sponsorship, no TV media, limited attendance at the stadiums, numerous restrictions being enforced on fan activity inside the stadiums, and many more factors that would have challenged the very existence of the league."
"I knew there was no 'quick fix', and that the road to recovery will take some time. I also knew that in order to get back on track, we have to have a more professional and structured approach to operating the league. Most importantly, the league needs to take very good care and listen intently to the concerns of its stakeholders – the Federation, the owners of the teams, the players, and most importantly, the fans. The fans are the fuel that drives the engine. Without the fans, even the most organized league will never survive,” he continued.
Sumayao then went on to elaborate what he believes is necessary for the PPL to prosper in the country.
"The league will only prosper when we start to understand and implement the concepts of discipline, accountability, responsibility, and unity. These are not merely words, but are a way of life and the path to success. I have stepped in at a very difficult time. It was either witness the decline of Philippine pro football as a distant observer, or start working and do something about it. I chose to do something about it. I also believed that the league should be a concerted effort of the teams that participate in it. This is where it becomes important to have a unified stance, strength in numbers. Where politics need to give way to discipline and compassion. In order for the league to prosper, the team owners must also be able to make sense of the financial burden it has to undertake and somehow find a way to recover their investments. It must have the help and support to generate its own revenue, which will lead to financial independence. All of this will take time, but we need to start now. It all starts with a small step with all stakeholders moving in the same direction.”
Finally, Sumayao clarified that the PPL is in no means a reincarnation of its predecessors, but instead a whole new entity that is fully focused on brining club football to an elite level in the Philippines.
“The PPL is not a reincarnation of the UFL, PFL or any other previous leagues. It is a new, neutral, independent league whose main objective is to contribute to the development of football in the country. It is also the gateway to the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. We are not here for the money nor the glory. We have no political or opportunistic hidden agendas. We are here to work for the country. That is why I have always been appealing, especially to the many frustrated fans, to stay positive and never give up hope. Change is never easy. But it is a catalyst of progress. So I am appealing to all the stakeholders of football in the Philippines to support change and adapt. Let us move past all the criticisms and negativity and embrace change in the pursuit of progress and stability.”
“The PPL will soon actively engage in news dissemination, give periodic updates about its plans on the development of the league, and conduct regular communication exchanges for fans on social media. See you all at the PPL kick-off on March 2019," Sumayao concluded.