FootballManila360.com sat down with CEO of Ilocos United CEO Tony Lazaro to find out more about the Philippines’ most northerly based club and how it will impact the city of Vigan, the north of Luzon and football development in the Philippines
Why did you choose Vigan?
TL: We chose Vigan because it needed a team to serve the huge potential fanbase of thousands, if not millions of proud and hardworking people. When we got to the province, we saw so many people that used the internet to learn skills and organized tournaments themselves but it ended there, what they needed was some structure.
The crying shame is that it is so far from Manila that it cannot receive enough support from the PFF. The Ilocos Football Association is still pending accreditation. We decided it was time for there to be a professional setup up there for the local football fanatics to tap into. The stadium is available during training sessions for people to use the track, meet the players or just watch and learn.
What is special about Vigan?
TL: Vigan is a romantic city with cobbled streets and horse drawn carriages. The people work hard during the day and like to spend the rest of the time with their family and friends but they want to be a part of something that they can engage with. The football match is 90 mins of pure entertainment where your reactions as a spectator affect the performance of your team. They will be our 12th man and one of the main strengths of our home games.
How did you sign your players?
TL: I didn’t sign them without them visiting Vigan and understanding the work they needed to put in to be a part of a PFL team. They had to understand that it was not going to be easy but that it was achievable if they worked hard and focused on improving themselves as footballers.
Who are your exciting signings for the team?
TL: Anton Del Rosario has just signed on as a club captain being part of our squad and will act as a role model to the youngsters in the team. It will bring value to the team and to the club because he will play and develop the club in other aspects.
Tell us a bit more about the stadium
TL: Our FIFA approved stadium developed is a refurbishment of a current stadium but we have added other sporting facilities to make it a hub for everyone to enjoy.
We are changing the standing area to make three different types of spectator areas: Standing, Sitting and Presentation areas for VIP spectators. The aim is to have a 15,000 – 20,000 capacity stadium when it is completed.
What are the facilities that you added?
TL: The football field is a newly laid artificial turf with a track surrounding it but around that there are basketball courts and tennis courts for all to use. FIFA signed off on the whole development and it meets the requirements of the PFF.
How will you achieve your goals?
TL: We run this club as a business and you run a business by putting the foundation in place so that it will never fall over. Understand your numbers – your revenue, your cashflow, your expenses.
Then you need to get your product right which means an entertaining day out for the people to enjoy. We are basing our steps on a long term plan which will also include an academy to create more opportunities for homegrown players
What is your aim for the season?
TL: We are a new team and it would be great to get out of the bottom two. But if teams come in thinking they’ll walk away with an easy three points than they are in for a surprise. We have a solid team and, in time, will have a strong home crowd.
What are your long term goals for Ilocos United?
TL: Our aim is to create a strong fan base by providing an entertaining product to them, week in and week out. After setting up the club and having it ready for the season we plan on creating an academy to develop local talent. The local players are not far from being as good as the foreigners that ply their trade here, they have all the techniques. What they need to learn is how to read the game tactically. It’s not a short term fix, it takes time but in the long term it will lead to the Philippines having a strong Azkals team in the World Cup.
What do you think of the league structure of the PFL?
TL: My understanding is that the PFL is modeled off the A-league in Australia. The teams will play a league style format and at the end of the season there will be a playoff for the top four teams. It has been very successful in Australia and what we need to bear in mind is that it is very tough to reach the 28 game per year requirement for champions league qualification in such a widespread country such as the Philippines and Australia. I made a quick check on our farthest away game in Davao. To get there, it could be a 15 hour journey!
Thank you to Tony Lazaro for the interview. We wish the representatives of Ilocos the best luck in the season!
Catch Ilocos United vs Davao Aguila FC on May 7, 2017 at home in the Quirino Stadium, Bantay, Ilocos Sur at 4pm or on PTV 4
Stay tuned for more news about the inaugural season of the PFL including interviews, match reviews and team news.
For more about the PFL visit like and share the official facebook page and let help bring football to another level to the hearts of the Filipinos!
Written by Mike Meier
Edited by Kaman Lee Suleiman