July 9 ------ CERES-NEGROS FC has become the first professional club in the Philippines to pull the plug due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The financial impact of the virus, SPIN.ph learned, was the biggest factor in the Ceres Bus Liner company’s decision to give up the team and open the club to interested investors. The biggest contributor to the financial losses was the restrictions on travel during the pandemic imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) over the country that also barred provincial buses to ply their routes. Ceres isn’t the only bus company that has taken a financial crunch. Recently, Victory Liner laid off 400 workers last month due to the anticipated losses under the strict implementation of health protocols in the public transport sector during the pandemic such as social distancing.
Incidentally, Ceres was also embroiled in a family feud over the control of the company last year, but the club managed to be unaffected by the internal issue and went on to operate and exist during the dispute. Although figures weren’t revealed, the club hinted about the effect of the pandemic to the company headed by chairman Leo Rey Yanson in its official statement of its decision to sell the team. Ceres-Negros FC also said it also complied to its financial obligations to the club the best it can. “While the pandemic has struck hard on businesses all over the world, Ceres has made its best efforts to compensate its players and staff,” the club said on its official announcement.
Ceres-Negros FC also described Yanson’s passion for football and how difficult it was to give up the club team amidst the pandemic. “This is one of the toughest decisions made by Mr. Yanson, whose passion for football was reflected at the way he poured his personal resources and steered the club to unprecedented heights since it was formed eight years ago,” said Yanson. Ceres leaves the Philippine football scene as one of the most successful clubs in the country, after three straight Philippines Football League crown, one Copa Paulino Alcantara Cup, and the distinction as one of the club teams that competed aboard through the AFC Cup. The Busmen, captained by Azkals player Stephan Schrock, also came close to a spot in the AFC Champions League, which could have been the first Philippine club to make it to Asia’s most prestigious club competition. The club also said it will announce its new owners soon.