Ceres owner defends club existence
BACOLOD City—Former Asean champion Ceres-Negros FC may have set the bar for Philippine club football over the past three years, but its existence has been thrust as one of the key issues hurled against its owner in the battle for control over the country’s biggest bus company.
Club chair Leo Rey Yanson, who was ousted as president of Vallacar Transit Inc. (VTI) in a boardroom coup last week, on Sunday insisted that he funds the country’s top football club using his own resources, disputing the allegations made by his older brother, Roy.
The older Yanson, who was installed as president of VTI by three other siblings, was seen in a video circulating online telling employees early last week that Leo Rey uses company funds for the team, which is named after one of the company’s bus lines. VTI has 18,000 employees and a fleet of 4,000 buses.
He amped up the tirade by saying that football players earn more than the VTI employees by “just simply kicking the ball.”
With Leo Rey at the helm, Ceres is already the country’s most successful club in just seven years of existence after winning the Asean zone title of the AFC Cup in 2017 on top of two AFC Champions League preliminary round appearances.
“Football is my passion and it’s sad and unfortunate that a team that has become a symbol of unity and a source of pride in the country and city has been dragged into this conflict,” Leo Rey told the Inquirer.
“My goal is to put the Philippines, especially Bacolod and Negros Occidental, on the map when it comes to football, that’s why we put our best foot forward every time we host matches and every time the team plays. I don’t need to justify how much I’m spending for the club because its my own personal money.”
Ceres plays its home games at Panaad Stadium here with Leo Rey spending for refurbishing the stadium, including the installation of plastic seats in the grandstand and bleachers. The club doesn’t charge fans for tickets to matches.
Even with the dispute involving their owner hanging over their heads, the Busmen, the two-time Philippines Football League champions, overpowered Philippine Air Force, 12-0, last Saturday for the solo lead in the PFL.
“The uncertainty is a problem but we live in the present so today we had to win this game to give our owner a little smile and a little happiness back,” said Ceres star Stephan Schrock.