Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time to crack the whip, FAM (The Malay Mail)

I wrote this piece for the Valley Voice column in The Malay Mail which appeared on 10th April 1995.
17 years down the road, I am just wondering how much has changed. or how many things are still relevant.
Have we moved forward or still making the same mistakes and the game has not improved either.
You be the judge of it.
Happy reading.

THE Premier League will go fully professional next season after seven
years since its birth as a semi-pro competition.
  But in tandem with full professionalism, it is high time for the FA of
Malaysia to crack the whip on errant or deadwood FAs.
  For a start, FAM should stop pampering the state FAs.
  Let them fend for themselves. Stop spoon-feeding them with the yearly
handout of RM500,000, which is only a minimum.
  At the beginning when the League was in its infancy, it was fine to help
the  States get prepared with financial aid.
  The States have learnt to walk, so to speak, and it is about time, they
learn to be independent.
  State FAs have often complained about difficulties in securing
additional funds because of the existing circumstances.
  The barrier that holds back other sponsors are the advantages being
enjoyed by the major sponsors and co-sponsors of the League and FAM.
  The existing sponsors have the rights to prominent advertising space at
stadiums and players' jerseys.
  As a result, other sponsors are reluctant to come in because they feel
that they don't get a good deal. They either shy away, have conflicting
interest or come in only for a token sum.
  As this is the main complaint, FAM should put the State FAs to a test by
stopping the annual financial contribution and let them get their own
  One can look at it this way. The States FAs are not really earnest in
hunting for sponsors because they know the money from FAM is ready for
them annually.
  As a result, they make little efforts to raise funds or look into other
  To be fair, several States do really try to improve themselves. With
proper management, they have ventured into business like sports management
and are doing well.
  There are some lucky ones who have their State Governments helping them
financially. This again makes the State FAs sit down comfortably and
forget their tasks.
  In some cases, even with the FAM subsidies, the State FAs still have
problems managing their set-ups because of lavish spending because the
money they spend is not through their efforts.
  When the very people who were asked to quit their jobs and turn full
professionals got short-changed, the errant State FAs should be hauled up.
  This season, there were several States who have had problems paying the
wages of their players, even running into arrears of two months and more.
  And last season, many players caught for match-fixing in Malaysia's
biggest soccer scandal, claimed that they had to resort to accepting
bribery because their salaries were often not paid on time.
  Of course, that is not an excuse for them to be corrupted, but it was
one factor which State FAs should have recognised and prevented.
  Then, we have State FAs offering substantial bonuses to players for
winning matches but can they afford them?
  It is all right if the State FAs can make these payouts, but some States
have run into debts because they cannot fulfil their promises to the
  But the question is, when the players are professionals and are paid to
do their jobs, why pay them bonuses for wins when it is their duty to do
  It should be more rational to reward the players at the end of the
season or when they qualify for the Malaysia Cup or progress further.
  But when we get State FAs paying bonuses for winning matches but not
winning any honours at the end of the season, one wonders what the bonuses
were for. For failure, perhaps?
  The State FA will have to get their act together for the new season
because there are many unprofessional things occurring in the respective
  The FAM have even spoon-fed the State FAs by supplying office equipment
like computers, television sets, video-players, photo-stating machines, to
name a few, but there were still certain States who could not operate
  In some States, the Press covering matches even have difficulties
getting team-lists, let alone decent table and chairs to work on.
  Maybe the State FAs have got very comfortable with the handouts from FAM
that they do not want to raise their fingers to get things in order.
  The subsidy given by FAM includes money to be spent on youth development
and administration but there are still many State FAs who have neglected
  They use the bulk or even all the money for their Premier League team,
which includes tours and expensive foreign signings but have nothing to
show at the end of the season.
  There are some State FAs who do not even budget their expenditure for
the season.
  They end up either depending on gate collections, which is not a
guaranteed source of income, or running back to the FAM for advances from
their next season's subsidy!
  There have been times when FAM had to bail out the State FAs after they
could fulfill their obligations to foreign players, who had sought Fifa's
  If the national body had not bailed out these State FAs, the former
could have ended in hot soup with the international soccer body.
  FAM's current contract with the major sponsors end in 1997 and probably,
it is about time they review the current trend of supporting the State FAs
in line with the League going professional.
  FAM could still secure the sponsors, but use the funds for the various
national teams, national development of coaches, youth development and
technical areas.
  It is also time that only those teams who can manage themselves
independently, which will automatically see them taking a more
professional approach in all aspects because the profit and loss ledger at
the end of the year will determine their very survival, are allowed to
play in the Professional League.
  State FAs who cannot manage themselves well or cannot afford to play in
the Professional League should probably take part in the Amateur League
until a time when they are ready to join the higher echelons.
  It does not matter if we can only get eight States who are financially
sound to play in the Professional League because we will at least get a
League with the minimum of problems and a high-quality performance where
the competition will be much keener with all teams fighting to come out
tops. And ultimately, this will put more money in their kitty.
  Food for thought, FAM.

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