PFF considering reducing Premier League teams

KARACHI: Taking into consideration the suggestions of the world football governing body, FIFA, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is considering reducing the number of teams in the Pakistan Premier Football League for the 2014 season.

The initiative is being taken to improve quality of the league which is the backbone of the country’s football. There will be no changes in the Premier League this year though. It is scheduled to kick off after Eid-ul-Fitr. As usual 16 teams will be taking part in the marathon, which will continue for five months. But the relegation mechanism can be changed from this year.

There are chances that as the first step the number of teams will be brought down to 12 from the current 16. In order to implement the plan, the PFF will discuss the issue with the officials of the participating teams at the managers meeting which will be held at the end of this month or early next month. “We are thinking about it and will discuss the issue in the managers meeting,” an official of the PFF told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. “Taking input from the officials of the participating outfits is very important,” the official said.

If the PFF wants to see 12 teams in the 2014 edition, it will have to mention in the technical rules and regulations of the forthcoming Premier League how many teams will be relegated.
According to the current format, two bottom-placed teams are relegated to the PFF League (B Division) and they are replaced by the two top teams of the second-tier league.
The PFF will also have to bring certain changes in the PFF League to produce a proper system based on promotion and relegation. FIFA has also suggested to the PFF to hold the Premier League matches at crowd-pulling venues in order to bring vitality into the event.
The officials of the participating teams will be advised to select grounds for their home leg matches which have better pitches and are also crowd-pulling.
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Football Ground and the venue at Chaman usually attract good crowds. Last year, on average, 15,000 spectators turned up for watching matches in Chaman, a scenic town in Balochistan bordering Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
The KMC Stadium, however, has been ignored for the last few years for Premier League matches because of a rift between the PFF and the administration of the KMC Ground on certain issues.
Introducing foreign players in the Premier League is one of the suggestions given to the PFF by FIFA. The PFF expects some resource-rich departments featuring in the Premier League to bring in foreign players. But it seems they are not ready to do so because of limited sports budgets.
The current Premier League format has failed to produce quality players. The League, which is played with a home and away system, was introduced in 2004 and so far nine editions have been conducted. WAPDA have won it for a record four times while the reigning champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) have to their credit three titles. Army have won it twice. The winners of the Premier League qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup, the third-tier continental club championship.