AWARE that it is taking over from a team that was highly successful both here and abroad, new Philippines Football League squad United City Football Club (UCFC) said work is cut out for it but expressed determination to make its own mark in the sport.

Took the place of Ceres-Negros FC in the PFL, UCFC officials said it is very excited to be part of the young football league, looking to build on the legacy of its predecessor with the end view of achieving greater heights.

MMC Sportz Asia is the organization behind UCFC. It 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 PFL under a new name.

Mr. Yanson and the Ceres group 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 left 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.

In an online press conference on Wednesday, UCFC co-founder Eric Gottschalk shared that the opportunity to take over from a team like Ceres was just hard to pass up on, especially since things fell in their place.

“The players were just excited to start it going and were willing to make it work with us. Things just came together in the negotiations, making it comfortable for us to take the risk,” said Mr. Gottschalk.

The UCFC official went on to say that through the club they at MMC Sportz get to expand their football programs as well in the country, something they have been active with in the last few years.

Mr. Gottschalk also underscored that they fully support the PFL and what the latter wants to accomplish as far as the direction of the league goes.

Now part of the PFL, UCFC is seeking to keep the core of the Ceres squad intact as much as possible.

The club recently re-signed Filipino-German Stephan Schrock, who will now serve as UCFC’s team captain as well as an assistant coach.

More players from the original team are set to be signed, Mr. Gottschalk said, just as the club is in talks with coach Risto Vidakovic to possibly return.

Mr. Gottschalk shared that they are still undecided where the club will eventually locate, which was why they chose to be named “United City Football Club” so as to give them flexibility for plans for the future.

Apart from making waves in the PFL, UCFC is also eyeing to do well in the AFC Cup which Ceres, as league champion, left behind.

Philippine Football Federation President Mariano Araneta said UCFC will take over the spot of Ceres in the AFC Cup since it is “the same team with a different name.”

Also at the Wednesday press conference, Mr. Gottschalk released the team’s new crest, sourced from a contest they conducted.

The winning logo was created by Gerard Andaya of Grit Sports.

The logo has a circular crest acknowledging the roots of the club with two stars paying tribute to the origins of the “Ceres–LaSalle” and “Ceres–Negros” heritage.

The center of the logo has a geometric patterned football to represent that football is at the center of the club’s existence, while the symmetry of the ball stands for “Unity & Stability.”

The solid outer circle, on the other hand, “symbolizes the solid fans, being the club’s foundation that holds everything together.”

For winning the contest, Mr. Andaya won P10,000 plus a customized jersey. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo