KARACHI: And finally Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) announced on Saturday that Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) will begin in Multan from August 14.
Rawalpindi-based five-time champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) will defend the title.
The first round of the league will be held at Multan. Then it will be moved to Rawalpindi, Quetta and Karachi, in that order.
As many as 12 outfits have confirmed their entries: KRL, Army, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Pakistan Air Force (PAF), PCCA, Muslim FC, Navy, WAPDA, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), Quetta’s Baloch FC, Karachi United and Islamabad’s Huma Club. Baloch FC, Karachi United and Huma Club will make their debut.
Former champions K-Electric will not be seen in the event as the team has been disbanded.
The PFF secretary Naveed Akram said that the draws and technical regulations of the league would be announced next week.
“The preparations for the largest event of Pakistan are in the final stages,” he said.
National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) is not featuring in the event. Sources told ‘The News’ that the majority of NBP players have passed their prime. Sources said the sports management has requested its authorities to send the old players to various posts so that new and young players could be recruited.
Afghan FC, Chaman’s main club, is the other major team not participating in the event, saying it is being held by a federation which is not recognised by FIFA.
Masha United, who were promoted to the top-tier event, have also decided not to feature in the event which in their opinion is illegal and is not recognised by FIFA.
Sources said that former Pakistan coach and Director Technical Shehzad Anwar is expected to serve as PAF coach during the event.
Shehzad in the past acted as PAF coach with the former PAF manager Arshad for a season but he is not permanently kept by the PAF’s football team as a coach.
As court has restrained the Ashfaq group from using the PFF accounts it will be a tough job for the group to conduct the marathon event in a befitting way. PTI MNA Malik Amir Dogar is expected to bring in some money through various sources to hold the event.
Pakistan missed its Premier League mostly during the last six years due to legal wrangling among various factions.
The league will not be recognised by FIFA. WAPDA, KRL and armed forces have made solid preparations for the league which will be held on a double league basis.
The league held in 2018-2019 was conducted initially by Faisal-led and FIFA-recognised PFF and then by Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led PFF which came into existence as a result of the elections conducted under the orders of the Supreme Court.