PFF plans for revamping domestic football

KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is all set to revamp Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) into the Elite League where each team will represent a club instead of any sports department.

The league will feature 16 teams and the matches will be played on home and away basis. The idea is a follow-up of the Vision Asia plan that was handed to them by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in 2010. Vision Asia will help them introduce the concept of independent clubs instead of teams representing departments like Wapda, Pakistan Army, Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), and Pakistan Air Force (PAF).

So far, 11 teams have registered with the federation to acquire the AFC license in order to create a separate club with just HBL, NBP, KESC and KPT yet to jump aboard. The criteria for forming a club emphasises that the club should have its own funds in order to be licensed by the AFC. The budget, funds, sporting facilities and infrastructure will be assessed by the AFC on a yearly basis.

Meanwhile, the club should have its own playing field, training field and it should be run as a legal entity instead of a sports department with a secretariat. Players aged over 30 and under 18 will not be eligible to play and each club should have an AFC certified coach in order to be considered for registration at all. Hiring a qualified physiologist is also a must and each team should have at least 22 players in the squad.

“Getting the AFC license for the Elite League is like starting from scratch,” KRL coach Tariq Lutfi told The Express Tribune. “It’s like reinventing the football culture in Pakistan. Our club had sent out the legal documents last November and we are a separate club and not part of KRL anymore.

“The company however will get the funds from KRL, the organisation, but we have formed a system to run it separately.”

Drawbacks of transformation

However, KPT sports department manager Shah Naeem said that PFF’s hastiness is only promoting corruption and an unplanned implementation of the Vision Asian plan will prove to be unfriendly to the footballers that are usually hired by organisations.

Most of the players might end up unemployed by the end of the process, he added.

“It’s going to be a disaster.” Said Naeem. “NBP, KPT, HBL and KESC didn’t go ahead with the registration process because it requires us to deceive AFC. I wrote to the PFF that KPT is a trust and funds are handed to the sports department from the head office.

“Now if we want to establish ourselves as a different club that would mean that over 100 footballers who are part of our squads will be unemployed.”

However, PFF Operations and Tournament Director Pervaiz Mir said that the system would only improve quality of football in the country and the federation is on the job and negotiating with the four clubs.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2012.