It was a shock to note that our MSL is categorized as a grade D league. It is indeed a bitter pill to swallow but that should motivate the national football administrator to think hard to move forward.
Although it was said that there should be at least 18 teams in the league, it must be 18 quality teams that is managed properly. It does not matter if politicians want to run the teams as long as they know what good management practice are. It has been umpteen years that teams in MSL claimed that they are professional bodies but except for a few, many were ruined by bad administrators. The worst were always about players not paid salaries or allowances although it is known that all teams were given grants by FAM.
State teams for example could co brand with private companies and let the private companies help manage the available funds that were budgeted for the year. Match bonuses or incentives should come from profits made from the business. Not from those not budgeted for.
Private companies are generally very good in marketing and this will obviously help teams raise funds through “selling” the team.
In attracting crowds plus intent to help development of the players, teams should look at big names that has past their prime as these names would attract die hard fans that see then as legends. For example, Robbie Fowler who has great followers would definitely attract Liverpool fans of today and the past to come and support him and his team. This marketing strategy would even attract fans from all over the world that still follows Robbie Fowler. Professional players from top flight soccer league in Europe are still good for MSL even if they are 36 years old. After all, MSL is not as grueling or physical as that in Europe. But of course all these players should pass medical using Europe professional league standards before teams sign the likes of him.
Why do we want to sign in cheap players whose name were no where known. Even if they are good, they will only attract fans from teams they have sign. These unknown players may be bigger in size but with quality that top flight teams in the world would just pass looking at them. Where is Keita Manju of Perak who said to have made it in the Major Soccer League in the US? If we take unknown players that could not even get into their national team, we will only rob our own players from clocking hours of play. When we chose those players for the national team and we did badly, we blame the foreigners that played in our league. Isn’t this new?
In retrospect, our national team has developed to become stronger because our younger players now have more playing time when foreigners were barred from playing in our league. Our southern neighbor for example, did not do well in the SEA Games when they were represented by neutralized “imported” players. Even with those players playing for their national teams, they can’t even match teams from the Far East or that from the Middle East.
I am of the opinion that MSL should think of how it could attract real professional teams from anywhere in the world. Even if we have to play the reserve teams from BPL, it will be nice to have them here. Big name players recuperating from injuries or fringe players that need more playing time can use MSL as getting their fitness back. It is also a platform for our players to showcase their skills to their scouts. This sound impossible but if we think hard, probably 4 or 5 teams or at least teams owned by our tycoons like QPR and Cardiff could play in our league. With this available, the industry could become bigger. Not only the opportunities are opened to players, but also physiotherapist, medical teams, caterers and the likes. From these, obviously the set up required by the greater teams from BPL will give us first hand experience in learning from them as it will be obvious that they will want to employ Malaysians to be part of their set up to save cost. This is what we are looking for as it not only helps to develop our sports but the backroom as well. The presence of the greater teams will obviously motivate our local team to set their team to be at least on par with them. Then we would see good players around the region or even the whole world wanting to play in MSL.
Perhaps, MSL need a major shake up to make it exciting, competitive and profitable. It could be a major renovation that will shape the future of our number one sports in Malaysia. Otherwise, we will become what we had before, unsure of what we are doing. The impossible is nothing!