Sunday, October 16, 2005

Malaysian League may be broadened after bans

Former Malaysian National Sports Council director-general and Football Association of Malaysia council member, Datuk Wira Mazlan Ahmad, told Rizall Hashim of the Malay Mail that the FAM must decide to focus on the M-League at the expense of a strong national team or seek to establish a good Malaysian team by giving less attention to the league. “This may not be the ideal solution to our ills but we have failed so far in trying to strike a balance between the need to form a strong national team and an attractive league. So perhaps we ought to consider other options,” he said.

Mazlan, who was a member of FAM’s Semi-Pro committee that came up with the blue-print in 1988 which led to the launch of the Semi-Pro League a year later, offered two possible scenarios: “Option 1 is to for FAM to continue promoting the league as an industry and tap its potential to become the top league in the ASEAN region. Option 2 is to abolish the professional structure and channel our energy instead on establishing a strong national squad.”

According to the Borneo Bulletin, the FAM may have already decided on something broader than Mazlan's Option 1. The Eastern Malaysian newspaper reported that the FAM has invited the Brunei Football Association to take part in the M-League 2006. According to an official statement, FAM has approved BAFA's selection of the DPMM football club, rather than the Brunai national side. In the M-league the club will known as DPMM FC Brunei. The invitation seemingly follows the FAM's five-year playing ban on five clubs for withdrawing from 2006 national schedules.

The FAM has further criticised the two senior M-League clubs involved in the walk-out, Public Bank and MK Land, which had claimed their decisions had been prompted by financial problems. FAM secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad told S Sivabalan of The Star the clubs had failed to use their annual grants effectively.

“Public Bank received a total sum of RM 1.4 million since they started competing in 2002. In 2002, they received RM 200,000, another RM 200,000 in 2003 and RM 550,000 in 2004. This season, Public Bank were allocated RM 450,000 and so far we have paid out RM 325,000 to them. As for MK Land, they were only competing in the Premier Club competition in 2003 so they received RM 35,000. In 2004, MK Land had a huge jump to RM 200,000 because they qualified for the Premier League. MK Land received RM 180,000 for the just-ended season and FAM have paid out RM 140,000 of it."

However, both teams received smaller annual grants this season. "We had to reduce the annual grants for all teams because FAM suffered a huge reduction in terms of sponsorship this season," Saad said. "We can’t be giving all the money they need to run their teams. We simply cannot afford it. These teams are supposed to be professional outfits. It will be up to the sponsorship departments of the respective teams to look for the rest of the money.”

According to reports, an M-League team requires "an annual sum of about RM 2 million" to compete in the competition and must adhere to a monthly salary ceiling of RM 8,000 per player (RM 20,000 inclusive of tax for each foreign player). Some clubs are rumoured to be paying well over the limit to key players while others are failing to pay the required proportion of their player salaries to the Employees Provident Fund.

In June this year, eight state-based clubs, Pahang, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Malacca, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak, had failed to remit EPF contributions for their players and staff to a tune of RM 4.3 million, forcing the EPF to enlist the FAM’s help.


UPDATE

The five clubs slapped with a five-year suspension by the Football Association of Malaysia for withdrawing from the Malaysia League next season, have yet to provide their feedback to a report on the actions by the Sports Commissioner Tan Sri Elyas Omar, Bernama newsagency reported (2 Nov 2005). Mr Elyas said the FAM and the five clubs were silent and had not contacted him after nearly a fortnight since the report was sent to them.

See also: Malaysia slaps 5-year bans on five M-League clubs (8 Oct)

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