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PFL eyes August start to new season

July 08, 2020 - Wednesday 7:07 PM by PNA

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MANILA – The Philippines Football League (PFL) could start very soon.

Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Nonong Araneta said the PFL may begin its 2020 season by August following the decision of Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to allow pro team sports practices again.

"Hopefully, by August 15, magsimula na kami (we can start already)," Araneta said in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas 2's Aaron Bayato on Monday.

Araneta said the PFF will first submit a report to the Games and Amusements Board how the first two weeks of training went down before meeting with the IATF again to discuss what to do so that the PFL can begin its season.

PFL clubs are to comply with the protocols set by PFF regarding club training during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Only 10 people, preferably a combination of eight players and two trainers so that they can train in groups of five, are allowed to be on the pitch at a certain period.

After a 30-minute break, another set of 10 people can now enter the field.

Close contact drills like tackling and set pieces are not yet allowed at this stage.

Only those tested negative for Covid-19 will be cleared to train, and with that, Araneta said the PFF will make sure about that.

"Ang [focus] namin ngayon is yung testing muna, hindi yung rapid test kundi yung RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction)--swab talaga--para accurate kami (Our focus right now is on testing the players, not through rapid test but through RT-PCR--that is, swab testing--so that we are accurate)," he further said.

The RT-PCR testing is being called the "gold standard" for Covid-19 testing since it gives the most accurate results.

Araneta said the PFF will begin testing the PFL players by Wednesday, and he expects that they can begin training next week once they get the results.

Ceres Negros on 'status quo'

Meanwhile, Araneta reiterated that the defending PFL champion, Ceres Negros, has yet to make an official communication regarding its stay in the league as rumors continue to swirl that the club may beg off for this season.

However, he confirmed that a representative of the Bacolod-based team was present in an online meeting with the other PFL clubs on Monday.

"At the moment, status quo pa rin naman (it is still status quo)," Araneta said.

He said regardless of the Ceres Negros situation, the PFL will still push through this year.

"Whatever happens, tuloy naman yung liga, and I think meron naman sigurong sasalo just in case unfortunately aalis sila sa league (the league will push through, and I think there may be one that will take over just in case they leave the league unfortunately)," Araneta said.

He hinted that another Luzon-based club may join Ceres Negros, assuming it stays, Kaya Iloilo, Stallion Laguna, Global Makati, Mendiola, Air Force, and the Azkals Development Team for this year.

"Sinabi namin (We told them) they just have to apply for licensing," Araneta quipped, adding that the PFF may waive the licensing fees for the meantime due to the pandemic. Ivan Stewart Saldajeno