D-day today, but M-League decision may be on hold

PUTRAJAYA: The fate of the 2020 M-League, which has been suspended since March 16, is set to be decided today.

However, there are many in the fraternity who are pushing for the decision to be delayed by a few weeks until after the trend of the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in a statement, acknowledged that he had received an official application from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to resume the prestigious league competition.

He said all issues and problems arising from the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) would be discussed by all ministries concerned at a meeting today.

“I have received a letter (official application) from the Youth and Sports Minister asking us to make a decision on football, whether the football league can resume or not. As I have announced earlier, it cannot be allowed (to resume) too soon, so the question is when.

“All matters will be discussed tomorrow (today). If I don’t announce it tomorrow, then maybe on Friday, ” he told a daily news conference on the MCO yesterday.

While early indications were that the government was ready to scrap the league this year, it is learnt that there are moves to include two other options during the meeting today – to postpone the league to a later date or to delay any decision.

Delaying a decision would allow the government to observe the trend of the pandemic – which is showing signs of abating in the country – and make a more informed choice later.

Officials, players and team managements are all hoping that the league would be allowed to continue in some form to avoid many legal implications involving sponsors and feuds over salaries.

On Tuesday, Ismail said the government was prepared to allow the M-League to resume after the MCO was lifted and that the competition could possibly restart in November, based on certain standard operating procedure (SOP) like playing in empty stadiums.

FAM and the Malaysia Football League (MFL) have postponed all football activities under their charge since March 16.

On April 24, FAM confirmed sending an official application to the National Security Council (NSC).

FAM said they and MFL were ready to resume the league and would like to seek the views of the authorities and approval of an SOP for conducting the competition.

Several countries including South Korea, Italy and Germany which have reported more COVID-19 cases than Malaysia have started easing the conditions for holding professional football activities.

Even the English Premier League is preparing for a “restart” with top teams like Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Brighton reopening their training grounds.

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