New UFL season to showcase football development in PH
MANILA, Philippines - The upcoming United Football League (UFL) season is a culmination of all that has happened the past years in Philippine football.
These are the words of Football Alliance (FA) president Santi Araneta, the management that handles the league tournament, when asked what the new UFL season has in store for football fans on the UFL pre-season press conference last Thursday, January 31.
Expect nothing but explosive football action as the new UFL season kicks off this Tuesday, February 5, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Ten of the best football clubs in the country comprising the tournament's top division will once again battle it out on the football pitch with the goal of becoming league champions, and be regarded as the country's best and most dominant football club.
The upcoming UFL season is the second staging of the country's premier football league in national television following the football renaissance that the Azkals brought after their miracle run in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.
"Since (the explosion of the Azkals), we've seen the level of football growing in the country, with the UFL officially launching last year. The direction is very bright as far as football development in the country is concerned," said Sports5 manager Vitto Lazatin.
The league is composed of two divisions comprised of 10 teams each that play against each other in a double round robin format. A win garners a full 3 points while a draw rewards a team with a point and a loss with none. The champion is determined by the most number of points at the end of the season.
New home stadium, better live TV coverage
The UFL will now have its own home stadium with the state-of-the-art artificial and all-weather football pitch at McKinley Football Field in Taguig City.
Early last year, 2012, the league management closed a deal with real estate developer Megaworld to construct an all-weather artificial pitch to be the new home of the UFL. The move may mean lesser match postponements and better quality football, as issues on pitch conditions will be lessened.
The opening games for the league, however, will still be played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium as off-pitch facilities are still in completion for the newly-opened McKinley Field.
The artificial pitch will start hosting matches starting on February 12 and will be the official venue until the end of the season.
Aside from the new home stadium, the UFL season will also have better live television coverage through TV5's sports channel, AKTV. The games will be shown in primetime television every Tuesday and Thursday from the usual weekend coverages.
"We've changed the programming strategy for the games from weekend afternoon to weekday primetime. This will bring the UFL to more people nationwide," Lazatin said.
New signings and transfers
The league will feature a lot of new faces, both foreign and local, as well as exciting transfers from one formidable club to another.
Sibling rivalry will be a major feature in this league's season, with the exception of the Younghusbands and Hartmanns, with the transfers and new additions of some teams.
Fil-Spanish Antonio de Murga, older brother of Azkals and Global FC defender Carli de Murga, Simon Greatwich, younger brother of Azkals veteran and Kaya midfielder Chris Greatwich, and Armand del Rosario, former Azkals and older brother of Kaya defender Anton del Rosario, will all suit up for Loyola Meralco Sparks.
Other new signings and notable transfers include former Pachanga striker Freddy Gonzales' transfer to Loyola and Anto Gonzales' return to his former team, Diliman (now Pachanga-Diliman) after a one-year loan to Loyola.
Chieffy Caligdong, formerly with the Air Force has joined Green Archers United, while PSG FC signed young star Fil-Belgian Angelo Verheye. Philippine Volcanoes' Andrew Wolff of the country's rugby team is also playing for Stallions FC.
Revamped promotion-relegation format
The promotion and relegation format of the league was given a facelift as the 9th place of Division 1 and the 2nd place from Divison 2 will battle it out in a home-and-away format to determine who deserves a place in the top-flight.
The previous promotion and relegation format only relegates the last place from Division 1 to Division 2 and the champion of the 2nd division earning a spot in the top-flight of the league.
The current and defending league champions is Global, besting rivals Kaya in goal difference in the competition last season.
The games on February 5 include matches between Loyola Meralco Sparks and Philippine Army FC at 5:15 pm while the game between Global FC and PSG FC is scheduled at 7:30 pm. - Rappler.com