James Younghusband will have to find a new club for 2019, as Davao Aguilas had backed out of the PFL. Kennelf Monteza/Dugout Philippines (file)
CALLING it "shocking" is an understatement.
This Christmas season, Davao Aguilas dropped a huge bomb that they will not play in the Philippines Football League, now known as the Philippine Premier League, for next year.
Two months ago, they were just inches to the left away from getting the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara before Jovin Bedic had other ideas and had it snatched away from them right at the death to give Kaya Iloilo a return trip to the AFC Cup.
"I have been informed about the withdrawal of the Davao Aguilas, and have received it with a heavy heart," said Bernie Sumayao on the withdrawal, whose work on the Thai league got him the job to succeed Lazarus Xavier as the league's chief executive.
Despite assurances from one of the owners of A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers that they will continue to support Philippine football, yours truly will state some points why Davao's withdrawal is bad news for everyone who follows the game here.
1. The pull-out is childish and whimsical, if not heartless given the timing
As a squad loaded with huge talents, they could have made another run when the third season kicks off in March next year, but Cheng's cruel decision to dismantle its squad was a dagger right into the hearts of their supporters, who blamed anyone except for themselves and had the gall to point the finger at the PFF.
Mike Limpag was right when he called the withdrawal as nothing but a temper tantrum. And why so? It was a decision borne out of a childish whim, which was also heartless considering it's December. Instead of gifts and presents, Cheng filled their stockings with a lump of coal.
That pullout gave not just the players, but also the club staff the rudest of presents, noting that it was the Christmas holidays when he announced it. So much for the season of giving, isn't it?
2. It's a major turn off for their sponsors
We will all agree that Davao is that kind of a football club that virtually has everything for a Filipino sports outfit: huge financial and political connections combined.
The Aguilas, on paper, had the wealthiest and most valuable squad after reigning champions Ceres Negros, and along with that their huge backing with no less than the highest position in the country which is proudly Davaoeño.
With all of us baffled by its move to retreat from the league, it will surely left a bad taste to its sponsors, among them are the country's largest corporation and a leading airline, apart from their partnership with J-League side Shonan Bellmare in whom they aggressively courted in the two years that they are in the top flight.
With their grand plans for the Davao region, including their own stadium, in jeopardy, it leaves us with a question: what's the sense of having sponsors if they do not have a first team to play in the top flight?
3. His offer to run the league has conflict of interest written on it
When Jack Biantan wrote it in Pinoyfootball about Davao backing out of the league, there was an original quote by Cheng which was later taken down when updated.
But alas, the Pinoy footballing netizenry made sure that it still has its receipts that had his words on it, not just for posterity, but also to remind him that the fans are still vigilant in every move that they make.
The quote reads as follows: “The main issue is the unsustainable way that the league is being run. I offered to run the league next year but they chose to go with another entity and handed over the league to them already meaning the current PFL is no longer in place. Therefore we can not proceed with so much uncertainty.’’
Despite the good intentions in helping to run the league, it clearly runs smack of conflict of interest that surrounded it, with anonymous sources saying that he offered that same thing to Leo Rey Yanson to run the league but the Ceres top boss declined (presumably out of delicadeza), leaving him with no choice but to hastily back out of the league.
4. His obsession of getting everything instant went way too far
The first three points that were presented ultimately lead to this: he likes to get things done in an instant, but this time it gets too far.
It stemmed from the success made by the Wanderers down under in its first two years where they won the Premier's Plate and the AFC Champions League, but now they have hit rock bottom. He tried to do the same thing in any way possible, but as the saying goes, not all glitters are made of gold.
Not to mention the fact that he had clearly copied the method of Florentino Perez's Galacticos by spending a lot on Azkals stalwarts, yet we already know what the end result is.
IN THE END, EVERYONE LOSES
Truly enough, Davao Aguilas gave us a lot during their two-year stint in the top flight. But surely, everyone loses in the latest debacle in Pinoy club football.
For the supporters of the rival clubs, they lost a side worthy to be called the villain wherein they do whatever they want and got away with it.
Another loser in this catastrophe is the supporters of the club itself, especially in the Davao Region, yet they pin the blame on others but not their beloved team.
Afterwards, it was the league who will suffer with an absence of a newly-minted contender, who made waves week in week out with their loaded squad full of superstars against the established sides like Ceres Negros and Kaya Iloilo.
Furthermore, we will be at risk of losing an AFC spot because it was the second year running that we lost a standby club that will compete in the AFC Cup.
Lastly, the club itself will be missing out on the excitement the new season will bring when it kicks off in March.
Hopefully, the sooner Mr. Cheng returns home here, the better. So that everyone here will find closure on this.
With other players surely finding a new home in other clubs, it will take more than just a season to return to relevance as they have to start from scratch.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the writer do not reflect those of Dugout Philippines.
Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada