Philippine Daily Inquirer

AMID AIR OF OPTIMISM, HARD WORK BEGINS FOR NEWLY LAUNCHED PROFESSION­AL LEAGUE

- By Cedelf P. Tupas @cedelfptIN­Q

After a glittering opening salvo Friday night, the hard part now begins for the country’s first profession­al football league.

“I’m so happy that our dream has turned into reality,” said Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta during the launch of the Philippine Football league Friday night. “It was difficult because there were so many questions that were hanging before from sponsorshi­ps, the business model of the league, which cities to play to and what communitie­s will support us.”

The league took close to four years of planning and organizati­on with a PFF Task Force getting help from the Asian Football Confederat­ion and the Internatio­nal Football Federation in putting up the PFL.

But the air of optimism was unmistakab­le during the launch at Shangri-La Fort in Taguig City with eight pioneering clubs vying in the inaugural season that kicks off with matches in two different venues on May 6.

Powerhouse clubs KayaMakati and Ceres-Negros clash in the first match of the PFL at 4 p.m. at University of Makati Stadium, before Stallion Laguna hosts Meralco Manila at Biñan Stadium.

But sustaining the league will be easier said than done.

“The challenge is really logistics right now because it’s home and away,” said Araneta. “It’s now up to the club to really create that fan base for their teams so there will be gate receipts that will support them and local sponsors that will support them. That’s the challenge for the clubs and the league as well.”

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