|SWITCHED OFF. Meralco Manila had announced that they have let go of the entire first team and staff three weeks before the second PFL season have even kicked off. Michael Joseph Romero (file)|
By Kevin Estrada
MANILA--When the Philippines Football League is set to kick off next month, it will be devoid of color.
This comes as Meralco Manila announced last night that it will immediately cease to operate and will not join the league for its second season, citing the huge financial burden in running the club after finishing third in the league's inaugural postseason.
The announcement ended eleven years in the upper echelon of Philippine football, starting out as an alumni team of former Ateneo stalwarts before alumnus Manny V. Pangilinan bought the club in 2011 and brought Phil and James Younghusband to their fold.
Then known as the Loyola Meralco Sparks, the club scored two pieces of silverware in its short yet colorful existence: the UFL Cup in 2013 and the PFF-Smart Club National two years later.
The Sparks were pioneers of overseas competitions, having finished fourth in the Singapore Cup in 2012.
Last year, they entered the PFL and chose Rizal Memorial as their home, losing only twice in Adriatico and won four of their tiffs with eternal rival Kaya Makati in the Capital Clasico to finish at the podium in third.
Despite losing the Younghusband brothers to a financially-strong yet underwhelming Davao Aguilas midway into the season after a starting it on a nine-match unbeaten run, the club soldiered on to retain the top spot at the end of the quadruple-round regular season, but lost out to Global Cebu in the Finals series that cost them not just a spot in the final, but also their last chance of experiencing Asian football.
Manila's exit reduce the league's participation to seven clubs as it prepares its sophomore effort full of unanswered inquiries after its inaugural year.