As the new season arrives, the Philippine Premier League, through its recent press conference, emphasized on fan engagement and involvement. Securing sponsors, broadcasting rights and other partners are the foundation of the revamped local league.
As lively as he is when it came to answering the question of the fans in certain social media outlets, PPL president Bernie Sumayao has shed light into their efforts of bringing the league closer to the fans as they inked a deal with ESPN5 to broadcast the games on free TV as well as sealing deals with major sponsors for the league.
“There were two key components missing, no television. If you don’t have any television you cannot reach the masses. Football is not an elitist sport. There was a lack of sponsorship. All of these things were missing. These are the elements we want to bring in this time around,” said by Sumayao as he discussed the plans for the upcoming league.
As of posting, there are 11 clubs who expressed their interest in playing in the rebranded local club competition. The league, however, are envisioning at least eight clubs to participate in their first season where they will go through a triple-round-robin. The league also assured that the AFC coefficient won’t be affected by the changes as they still follow the same format from the last season.
“The PFF is still the governing body of the league. Clubs’ AFC qualification will not be affected by the new league.” – PFF President Nonong Araneta
— Kaya Futbol Club (@KayaFC) January 23, 2019
“Based on AFC regulations, a club should they want to qualify for AFC club competitions, there is a minimum number of required matches which is 25. So, for an eight-club league, that would guarantee clubs 21 matches in the league and a minimum of six matches in the Copa Paulino Alcantara which would total to at least 26 matches,” said by Richie Gannaban who explained the format of the tournament.
Current league champions Ceres-Negros FC and Copa Paulino Alcantara title holders Kaya FC-Iloilo are the ones who’ve already confirmed their participation as well as Stallion Laguna and Green Archers United-Globe. There were reports as well that Leylam United showed their interest in joining the league.
A surprise addition to the list is the Philippine Air Force who, the last time they played in the defunct UFL, was relegated to its second division. Ian Araneta, who plies his trade with the said team is present in the press conference as together with Ramil Ranni who were given a directive from the commanding general of the Air Force to attend the event.
The matches will be aired on 5 Plus (formerly known as Aksyon TV) where they will broadcast one live match every week which is slotted every Saturday at 7 pm kick-off. “On a personal level, I am a big football enthusiast, I used to play varsity football in my younger days, so football has been very close to my heart,” said by Chot Reyes who graced the event as well.
— Philippine Premier League (@PhilPremLeague) January 23, 2019
“We took a look at the audience in the Philippines, obviously basketball is the number then women’s volleyball then boxing is up there but football comes in next. We thought that there is an untapped/underserved audience for football action. We’ve been trying to get even before it was PPL, luckily we’ve been able to get it,” Reyes followed regarding the decision of the broadcasting company to grab the chance to air the matches.
Aside from the broadcasting rights with 5 Plus, the league also aims to do a lot of fan engagement activities.
“We intend to have fan engagement activities during our matches. We want PPL games to be a fun experience for everyone in the family,” said Mr. Sumayao, a 59-year-old Filipino who has been involved in media and content rights in Thailand for the last three decades.
What could be the biggest move for the league is to scrape off some of the home and away matches as they tend to bring focus on centralized matches within Metro Manila. The newly-renovated University of Makati stadium will be one of the main venues aside from two or three more venues.
However, the league won’t focus solely on the centralized matches within the metro but also bring it to the provinces late in the season. This way, the league, not only the clubs, can gather as much as support from the fans located in the region where most of the people watch basketball. The league also have some intents of bringing in some live bands during matches as well as the possibility of food trucks to cater to the hungry fans watching the games.
They are now targeting to announce the confirmed clubs by the 15th of February and to get the league running by the end of March. They’re also asking the fans to, at least, give them a chance to run the show and see where they will take the league rather than judging them first.
“We are just asking the fans to give us a chance. May iba kasi nagsasabi, mamamatay na naman yung liga. Hindi pa nagsisimula, pinatay na nila. Give us a chance first to see what we can do and if mag-fail yung league, then it’s on us,” said by Gannaban who we came across by the end of the press conference.