Unpaid wages in Malaysian football nothing new. But why?
1. The subject of unpaid wages in the Malaysian football scene is nothing new.
2. Every year, just before the new season begins, reports of footballers and coaches not receiving their dues for months hog the limelight.
3. This year is no different. Melaka United Football Association has embarked on a donation drive to raise funds to settle its 2019 debts, as reported by Berita Harian.
4. In 2011, several Kuala Lumpur fans initiated a Save KLFA campaign following the association's financial woes. The intention was noble but Kuala Lumpur Football Association (KLFA) failed to capitalise on the momentum. Eight years on, KLFA still believes that placing a politician as its president will free the association of monetary issues.
5. Long term plans are alien to most sports organisations in Malaysia as its presidents and office bearers are only interested in making an impact, if any, during their term.
6. However, the guardians of Malaysian football had once implemented rules that would see teams in debt getting booted out from the domestic league. Why is Melaka United Football Association allowed to play (ie. awarded club licence) in the upcoming season?
7. Was this a case of the association submitting documents that were not reflective of its true financial status? In 2018, FAM general secretary Stuart Ramalingam was quoted as saying:
"Teams are required to submit their audited accounts and other documents and from there we can take action. Some clubs have private agreements with players in regard to outstanding wages.
“We cannot investigate and take action based on rumours as we are not the police.
“Teams are required to submit their audited accounts and other documents and from there we can take action. Some clubs have private agreements with players in regard to outstanding wages.”
8. Or did the guardians of Malaysian football (both the FA of Malaysia and the Malaysian Football League share the same man at the top) award the licence as to please its affiliate(s) who will go on to vote for office bearers at the next elections?
9. Sarawak was not supposed to play in the 2018 season in the M-League - allegedly owing the Inland Revenue Board and Employees Provident Fund, among others, close to RM1 million. Yet, the team played in the Premier League.
10. While Melaka is pretty much begging for money, Johor Darul Ta'zim is bullish of becoming Malaysia's first RM1 billion club in the next two years.
11. While it is clear some teams are able to chart their fortunes while others struggle to do so, the guardians of football can play a part by helping teams to plan their season. For starters, the fixtures for the 2020 season has yet to be revealed. Why?
12. If the fixtures are given in advance, teams will be able to manage their finances (ie. booking hotels and flights early for better prices) efficiently.
13. But a string of excuses will follow suit and the same conversations about unpaid wages and teams facing financial woes will be highlighted just before the 2021 season begins. No one seems to care, eh?