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Cash-strapped United City pulls out of PFL

As expected, United City FC begged off from participating in the second half of the Philippine Football League season due to financial challenges.

In a statement, the club announced that it already requested the Philippine Football Federation that it can no longer compete in the ongoing PFL season as it “awaits the outcome of the legal proceedings in Singapore against its investor Riau Capital Live.”

United City signed a major agreement with RCL, a Singapore-based real estate and sports investment entity in mid-2021 but defaulted under in October last year.

Since RCL failed to honor the agreed final settlement deadlines earlier this month, it forced United City to discontinue the operations of its professional football team that led to its withdrawal from the PFL.

Speculations of United City’s looming leave of absence have been swirling in the local football community since the PFL’s transfer window opened on 1 January.

The rumors gained steam when mainstays like Kenshiro Daniels, Mark Hartmann, Anthony Pinthus, Pika Minegishi, and Amirbek Juraboev left the club for overseas teams while Cholo Bugas moved to the Azkals Development Team.

Even team manager Ace Bright had left United City to take a similar position with the ADT.

“UCFC would like to state that all players and staff were already released from their contracts immediately after the first half of the 2002/23 PFL season and that all but one has signed new agreements with clubs in the Philippines and abroad,” the reigning PFL champion said.

“Following its request for ‘non-participation,’ UCFC has committed to the PFF that legal actions are being pursued to retrieve investment and to settle the club’s current liabilities while UCFC intends to return to the PFL competitions for the 2023/24 season.”

PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta acknowledged the financial predicament that United City is going through.

“We understand the situation affecting United City FC that forced them to withdraw from the league,” Araneta said in a separate statement.

“We hope that the club and its management are able to bounce back from this predicament.”

PFF secretary general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, for his part, stressed that United City’s main focus at this point is to sort out its financial situation.

“We are saddened that United City has decided to withdraw from the league,” Gastanes said.

“While the club has reiterated its desire to compete in future seasons, it must sort out its situation first before making their return to league action.”

PFL commissioner Coco Torre said that the club must also consider the business side of football.

“The case of UCFC is part of the realities on the ground, which must be addressed,” Torre said.

“We commend the UCFC for the high standards they have set earlier on, but we must also consider the economics surrounding football as a business.”

Founded in 2020, United City took over the management of three-time PFL champion Ceres-Negros FC. It gained traction in the local football scene when it became the first Philippine club to qualify outright in the AFC Champions League group stages by virtue of reigning supreme in 2020.

Before expressing its non-participation, United City is at second place of the ongoing season with 24 points — six points behind leader Kaya-Iloilo FC.

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