THE START of its fourth season postponed twice because of the ongoing concern over the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the Philippines Football League (PFL) said that it has been “frustrating” but nonetheless expressed its willingness to work with what is presented to it.

Originally set to start on March 21, Year Four of the PFL, seen by many as a “landmark” season for the added sponsorship it was to get, was rescheduled to kick off on April 18 before the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) late last week pushed the start anew to the later part of May.

In an announcement made on April 3, the PFF, which oversees the affairs and conduct of the PFL, said the decision to postpone once again was a result of the ongoing Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region.

Reports have it that the government task force leading the fight against the spread of the highly communicable disease is mulling the extension for another two to three weeks of the ECQ which is set to lapse on April 12.

“The current situation is unprecedented. So the League (as well as other industries) is facing setbacks to our objectives for the year. It is important to note however that in times like this, placing the safety and security of individuals is priority — as personal well-being is on top of our core values,” said PFL commissioner Coco Torre in an email correspondence.

But the PFL official said that they are confident that once the situation normalizes and they are allowed to resume their activities, they will be able to get the machine and season rolling albeit with adjustments here and there. 

“We are confident for the League to resume smoothly as things normalize. It is a matter of scheduling the matches to fit the calendar and touching base with our collaborators to ensure we are right on track,” said Mr. Torre, who assumed his post as PFL commissioner in 2019. 

“Part of the objectives this year is to expand the Copa Paulino Alcantara for emerging Clubs and other collegiate teams. We are in high hopes to be able to achieve this despite the delays in their respective competitions. Last and most importantly, our thoughts are with the players who are deprived of their usual training sessions. We are wishing them well and hope they are keeping physically and mentally fit in preparation for this highly competitive season,” he added.

As things stand, Mr. Torre said, the PFL will see six teams competing in the League tournament, namely Ceres-Negros FC (defending champion), Kaya FC-Iloilo, Stallion Laguna FC, Azkals Development Team, Global FC and Mendiola FC. 

League is a double-round home-and-away format wherein teams play each other four times for a total of 60 League matches.

For the Copa Paulino Alcantara they are opening more slots. Number of matches depend on how many participants there would be but Mr. Torre said they are targeting above 30 matches.

While what lies ahead amid COVID-19 is anybody’s guess, Mr. Torre assured that the PFL remained committed to continue providing inspiration and entertainment through The Beautiful Game.  

“Football has and will always be around to serve as inspiration and entertainment to the fans. In the meantime, we urge everyone to observe best practices in combating the virus, cooperate with local and national authorities, and be safe and healthy during the ongoing state of public health emergency in the country,” said Mr. Torre.

Adding, “To the frontliners and donors, we are very grateful for your service and sacrifice. We look forward to delivering the best football season this year once our nation has healed.”