‘Don’t blow whistle too early’

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PETALING JAYA: The government should not jump the gun in deciding the fate of the M-League.

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Instead, they should look at the improving situation and also FIFA’s proposal that teams be allowed to make up to five substitutions per match, instead of the usual three, as a temporary measure to help cope with potential fixture congestion.“This is a good idea from FIFA, it will allow teams to use the players better and avoid injuries playing through cramped fixtures, ” said Football Coaches Association of Malaysia (FCAM) president B. Sathianathan.

He was responding to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who said a post-movement control order (MCO) standard operation procedure (SOP) was being drafted by the National Security Council (NSC) and football would not be given an exemption.

Sathianathan pointed out that world football was slowly getting back to its feet with Italian teams resuming training in May, while the Bundesliga is also gearing up to resume next month and end the season in June.

Nearer to our shores, South Korea’s K-League will start on May 8 with a number of strict measures which have been put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

The UK government is also in talks to have the Premier League resumed as soon as possible.

Sathianathan said there were also several legal complexities if the M-League is cancelled, adding that the football industry in the country would collapse.

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“The issue of cancelling the M-League is very premature at the moment. I believe the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the Malaysian Football League (MFL) will have their measures to get the M-League to resume in a safe environment following the advice from the relevant authorities, ” said the 61-year-old former national team coach.

“We can see Italy and Germany are getting ready to start their league, in Asia we can see South Korea will start their K-League too. We can learn from them and use or adopt their methodology here.

“We have to remember that not all footballers in Malaysia earn a big salary, the fact is a huge number have normal salaries and if you look at the President’s Cup and Youth Cup players, they are actually earning around RM3,000 maximum.

“The cancellation of the M-League will mean thousands of people losing their livelihood.

The former international also added that the cancellation of the league would leave sponsors in the lurch and they might not return to support football in the future.

“Most M-League teams have received at least a portion of sponsorship money and cannot honour their contractual obligations if the league is cancelled, ” said Sathianathan.

“On top of that, the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) postponed 2022 World Cup/2023 Asian Cup qualifiers will be held in October and November. How can we handle those matches if we cancel all M-League matches?” – The Star

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