by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL), carrying 12 teams, will be held in Karachi and Lahore from September 1 to December 10, a senior official of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) told ‘The News’ on Sunday.
“Yes, we have finalised the schedule,” the official said. This will be after three years that the country’s top-tier football event will be held. For three years the league could not be organised because of legal conflict between the PFF and its rival group led by former PFF secretary Arshad Lodhi.
The four-time champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and WAPDA will be joined by two-time former winners Army, the last edition’s winners K-Electric, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Navy, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Chaman’s Afghan FC, Chaman’s Muslim FC and Quetta’s Baloch FC.
The two sides finishing at the rock bottom will be relegated to the second-tier league. The first phase of the event to be played on home and away basis will be conducted here at the KPT Sports Complex. Two matches will be held a day.
The second phase will begin at Lahore from November 1. The organisers have not yet decided the venue for the Punjab phase. It will be held at Punjab Stadium or Model Town Ground or Railways Ground.
The PFF official said that the decision to hold the league at one venue was taken to attract big crowds. “We want to attract big crowds. As there will be two matches in a day, it will be easy to hold the two matches at one venue,” the official said.
He was quick to add that Faisalabad could also be considered as one of the venues if there was chance of crowds coming to witness the matches. The official said that a team could register 25 to 35 players with the PFF for the league whose winners will play in the AFC Cup.
The PFF is also considering substantially increasing the bonuses of the teams and prize money.“There is certainly a move for raising incentives but I cannot confirm it,” the official added.Every team must keep one AFC License A coach as its head coach during the season.
The PFF has issued circulars about the league to all the participating teams so that they could prepare for the most important assignment. The organisers said drastic changes could not be made to the format of the league because of shortage of time.
“From next season solid steps will be taken to put the league on professional footings,” the official said.He said three FIFA referees and five assistant FIFA referees would be assigned the task to supervise the matches.
The timing of the matches will be decided later keeping in view the sun-set schedule in those months.Five days before the kick-off of the league a fitness test of referees will be conducted at Lahore.
The organisers will also make new cards for the players who will feature in the league. This time no foreign player will be seen in the league as K-Electric, the 2014-15 champions, have released both their Nigerian players, Sunday and Wilson.