PFL plans to open season in Carmona 'bubble'
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines Football League (PFL) looks to follow its international counterparts by creating a "bubble" located at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) training center in Carmona.
The fourth PFL season hopes to open in 2020 as professional football teams were given the green light by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to resume training on Monday, July 6.
"We’re grateful for IATF to allow the training of professional teams then if competitions can be held, we presented that all matches in the PFL wiill be held in our PFF training center in Carmona and we'll create a bubble for that," said PFF secretary-general Edwin Gastanes in an online press conference Wednesday, July 8.
Instead of a double round-robin, the upcoming PFL season is slated to be played in a single round-robin format.
According to PFL commissioner Coco Torre, the start date and end date will only depend on the development of the coronavirus situation in the Philippines, which recorded a single-day spike of 2,539 cases on Wednesday.
The PFF will also be coordinating closely with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on the required 27 matches for a club to qualify for the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup tournament.
Despite the news that Ceres Liner chairman Leo Rey Yanson is selling the club, the PFF is confident that the three-time PFL champions will remain in the league and comply with the requirements needed by the AFC.
PFL will also continue reviewing club licensing applications as one club is looking to join the league.
New normal of the beautiful game
Just like other leagues, the PFL is highly likely to resume without fans in the stadiums, prompting more digital fan engagement initiatives.
"We very much value our fans. We believe that it’s because of them that the sport will continue to grow. We do have some plans on how we can engage the fans when we resume PFL," said Torre.
The league is looking to invest on broadcasting in order to reach more fans and deliver high-quality production for fans to enjoy at the comforts of their homes.
"Fan interaction initiatives will also be made for fans to interact with a certain player," added Torre.
In Spain, La Liga partnered with EA Sports in order to deliver a crowd ambiance by projecting virtual fans and noises from computer games to cope with the players' need for fans.
PFL will also revamp its marketing strategies in order to expand its fan base and capitalize on the restart opportunities.
"As we all know, football is not as popular in the Philippines so we need to raise awareness, have to build more equity and entice more sponsors to come in so we continue to build on that," said Torre.
With all the protocols and restart plans in place, Philippine football officials feel positive about the opportunity to start ahead of other sports.
"I think this is a restart and this is an opportunity. If we get to start our PFL league, we’ll be the only sport that will be very active and that will be in the consciousness of our kababayans (countrymen)," said Azkals team manager Dan Palami. – Rappler.com