Ceres-Negros FC will play under the name United City Football Club when the fourth season of the PFL unfurls after the completion of the transfer of ownership of the club.

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

Top local football club Ceres-Negros FC is set to be renamed as United City Football Club following the completion of the transfer of  ownership of the team to a group of private investors which is managed by MMC Sportz Asia.

In an announcement made on Thursday, MMC Sportz said it has cemented the agreement to take over from the group of Ceres-Negros  owner Leo Rey Yanson and continue to participate in the fourth season of the Philippines Football League (PFL) under a new name.

To recall, Mr. Yanson and the Ceres group had decided to leave the PFL as the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic made it hard for them to sustain the team in a manner they wanted to.

Ceres-Negros leaves the PFL as the lone champion the league has known to date, winning the title in each of the PFL’s first three seasons, and as one of the top teams in Southeast Asia.

“We would like to thank Mr. Yanson and his team for agreeing to the transfer of the club into our name as this allows the players to continue participating in the Philippines Football League and hopefully also in the AFC Cup for the 2020 season,” said Eric Gottschalk, CEO of MMC Sportz Asia, in a statement.

“We will now immediately apply for the permission with the PFF (Philippine Football Federation) to rename the Club to ‘United City Football Club’ and request the PFF to support our statement of intent to continue participating in the AFC Cup,” he added.

The MMC Sportz official went on to say that they recognize they have big shoes to fill since Mr. Yanson and his group accomplished a lot in football in the country but they are determined to establish their own mark in the league.

Mr. Gottschalk said they are now in the process of negotiating with the Ceres players and staff and are hoping to keep the team intact as much as possible.

“The aim is to keep the team and staff together as much as possible, and allow them the well-deserved chance to continue to play football amid all the challenges that everyone has been facing,” he said.

Meanwhile, the PFL met with management of Global FC on Thursday to find workable solutions to complaints lodged against the club over non-fulfilment of contractual obligations to players and staff.

In the meeting, Global addressed the allegations raised against it and expressed its commitment “to settle all overdue payables to players and staff within the next 10 days.”

The PFL also said the PFF Club Licensing First Instance Body, the PFF’s decision-making body responsible for the issuance of licenses to Professional Clubs, shall convene prior to the start of the league to discuss the status of Global and its participation.

“It is highly important for the league to preserve the integrity among clubs. Players are the league’s primary stakeholders and so we should treat issues such as these with utmost importance. I trust the club to resolve all these issues before proceeding with further plans,” said PFL Commissioner Coco Torre following the meeting.