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PFL reverts to old format for 'bubble' season

United City will be defending its PFL title the old fashioned way. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--In a sudden development, the PFL is going back to the classic football season format.

League commissioner Coco Torre confirmed on Wednesday night that the Finals Series, which would have pitted the top four teams after the regular season to declare the champion, has been scrapped off from the calendar for this year.

This means the top team of the season will be determined the usual way, that is, the club with the most accumulated points after all the matches are played will be crowned champion.

Torre said that the omission of the playoffs from the PFL season was a result of a meeting between club owners on Sunday.

"They were discussing key factors such as player fatigue and physical fitness given the fact that for seven months there was no football at all," he quipped in an online press conference.

The six participating clubs, namely defending champion United City, last season's runner-up Kaya Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, Mendiola, newcomer Maharlika Manila, and guest squad Azkals Development Team, will play a single round robin tournament, which means each squad will only have five games.

While five is too few for a number of matches per club this year, Philippine Football Federation secretary general Ed Gastanes said that it will not affect the PFL's participation in next year's AFC Champions League.

"Because of the pandemic, both FIFA and the AFC have authorized the leagues and the NA's (national associations) to shorten the league duration. We have been told that we are free to do that without violating any regulation from FIFA and the AFC," he said.

The champion of this year's PFL season will get an outright spot in the AFCCL group stages.

The runner-up, on the other hand, will enter the AFCCL qualifying phase.

Meanwhile, the PFL moved its supposed Oct. 24 twinbill to the following day, which means the season will begin with a triple-header.

The season opener between ADT and Mendiola will now be played at 9 a.m. of Oct. 25, while the marquee match-up between Kaya Iloilo and Stallion Laguna will kick off at 4:30 p.m.

The other clash of Matchday 1 between Maharlika Manila and United City will now be the nightcap of the opening day festivities at 8 p.m.

All the matches will happen at the PFF National Training Centre in Carmona as part of a bubble.

The full schedule will be released at a later date.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_

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