IN an unusual case of “time is money,” the Malaysian Football League (MFL) literally can’t afford to wait.
If the Malaysia Cup competition is not completed by this month or postponed, the eight teams in the quarter-finals will have to incur a lot more costs, that is paying salaries. Normally, players’ contracts end in November, which means teams don’t pay wages for December.
And MFL, the organisers of the M-League, will also lose a chunk of sponsorship money if the Malaysia Cup competition is cancelled.
They want to complete the running of the Malaysia Cup as scheduled, the quarter-finals on Nov 12-13, semi-finals on Nov 17 and the final on Nov 22.
As such, the MFL, after a special board meeting yesterday, appealed to the government to allow the Malaysia Cup competition to be completed by this month under a special format, with all the eight teams confined to a venue that does not come under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
MFL said any further delay or cancellation of the Malaysia Cup will lead to them and their stakeholders, the teams, suffering financial losses in a season truncated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the CMCO was extended from Nov 9 to Dec 6 in many parts of Malaysia, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday that MFL’s application to complete the Malaysia Cup in this month was rejected.
However, MFL Chief Executive Officer Datuk Ab Ghani Hassan said in a statement yesterday they had appealed to the government to let them hold the Malaysia Cup this month. And MFL assure they will take the utmost safety measures with strict Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and using a special format.
“MFL remain hopeful the National Security Council (NSC) will consider our appeal to keep the Malaysia Cup going with special planning and tighter SOP, including staging matches in one centralised location using the quarantine-based method,” said Ghani.
“This appeal decision is supported by all eight teams who have qualified for the quarter-finals where they have stated their readiness to comply with the safety measures and SOP determined by MFL and the NSC,” Ghani added.
The MFL’s proposal is similar to how UEFA organised the remaining matches of their virus-disrupted 2019/20 Champions League and Europa League — in just one country per competition — where everyone played, stayed and ate together.
And there are only seven matches left in this season’s Malaysia Cup, which is easily manageable.
The MFL, in their appeal, propose to use two stadiums in Kelantan and Pahang.
“In the application letter, MFL have prepared a plan to continue the Malaysia Cup in states where there is no CMCO where venues like Sultan Mohamad IV Stadium and Darul Makmur Stadium can be used from the quarter-final stage onwards.
“We hope that this proposal is considered (by the government) as any delay to the competition will have a big impact on the football industry. MFL and the teams will also be affected in terms of commitment to sponsors.
“It is very difficult for MFL to postpone the competition, considering that the contracts of the M-League players will expire by the end of this month,” he said.
Most M-League outfits register between 25-30 players each for their squads. Assuming a team have 26 players with an average monthly salary of RM6,000, that means they have to fork out an additional RM156,000 on players’ salaries alone.
As it is, many teams have been suffering from financial hardship due to Covid-19, and an extra month of expenses will bring more woes.
Given the precedent set by UEFA and the situation in Malaysia, MFL may still be successful in their appeal.