MANILA, Philippines -- United City Football Club on Monday explained that they are currently dealing with "legal disputes" brought against the previous owner of the club, which compelled them to withdraw from the Copa Paulino Alcantara.
United City FC are the defending champions, having won the Cup in 2019 when they were still playing as Ceres Negros FC.
But Ceres Negros put the club for sale in early July 2020, and they were soon bought by a group of private investors managed by MMC Sportz Asia. Still featuring the same core of players bannered by Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Marañón, United City FC dominated the 2020 season of the Philippines Football League (PFL), and also competed in the AFC Champions League.
However, they announced last week that they won't compete in the Copa Paulino Alcantara, which will be the lone club competition in the Philippines this year after the PFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic
In a statement posted on their official Facebook account, United City FC revealed that they are currently embroiled in some legal issues due in part to the failure of the previous club ownership to fulfill their obligations.
"When United City FC took over the licenses from Ceres-Negros to rescue the club in July 2020, the parties signed an agreement outlining particular obligations to be fulfilled by Ceres-Negros," the club said. "However, some have unfortunately not been met by the former club, as of this writing."
"As the successor of Ceres Negros, United City FC is now being dragged into legal disputes brought forward against Ceres-Negros, for which United City FC is neither responsible nor have caused the circumstances, as all this arose before the takeover of the club, which is undisputed," the club added.
"Since the legal actions taken against the former Club Ceres-Negros have been registered with FIFA, it has now affected the United City FC Club license application for AFC competitions, which as of writing, is 'provisional.'"
The club said the matter is now being handled by their legal council.
"Together with the support of the PFF, all parties are working towards an amicable solution," it said.
"In the meantime, United City FC decided to pull out of the Copa Paulino Alcantara competition, as our participation would affect the outcome for the 2022 AFC Cup nominations of the other teams involved, among other factors, which had to be considered."
Withdrawing from the Copa Paulino Alcantara was a difficult decision as the United City FC players have been preparing for a return to competition.
It would have been their first taste of action since bowing out of the AFC Champions League in July.
"We apologize to our fans that the ongoing Copa is, unfortunately, being played without us," the team said.
"However, we assure you that UCFC will be stronger and better in 2022 when we aim to defend our PFL title and to go a step further in AFC competitions."