PETALING JAYA: The FA of Malaysia (FAM) have softened their stand on club entry to the Premier League next season.
Just three months ago, the clubs, especially those involved in the FAM Cup competition, were dealt a blow when the FAM restructured the M-League for next year. They set tough qualification criteria with teams having to feature in three consecutive finals to be considered for promotion to Premier League.
But the FAM had a change of heart at their council meeting at the Wisma FAM in Kelana Jaya here yesterday.
Clubs can now qualify for the new Premier League, which replaces Premier II, next season.
The competitions committee chairman, Datuk Redzuan Tan Sri Sheikh Ahmad, said that there would be playoffs among this season's bottom two teams in Premier II and the champions and runners-up of the FAM Cup.
“We have extended the promotion and relegation exercise for the clubs to keep competition healthy. It is an opening and an avenue for them to move up,” said Redzuan yesterday.
“At the same time, we want to make it clear that the clubs concerned must have good financial support to sustain them throughout the season. We will scrutinise the clubs before allowing them to gain promotion.”
The FAM had initially wanted to do away with clubs in the Premier League because of their poor financial resources. Negri Sembilan Chempaka withdrew from the Premier I this season.
In a bid to upgrade the quality of the domestic competitions, the FAM will introduce a Super League, comprising eight teams playing a three-round league. The new structure from next year will see the end of Premier I and II and also the historical FAM Cup.
However, the Charity Shield, the 16-team Malaysia Cup and the FA Cup competitions will continue to be played but with some changes to teams qualifying for these tournaments.
Premier I will be replaced by the Super League while Premier II will make way for an 18-team Premier League. The FAM Cup will be history with the introduction of the Premier Club Championships.
The good news for clubs is that they too will have a fair chance of competition against state teams to vie for places in the Super League.
The top six teams in Premier I this year will gain automatic berths. The remaining two berths will be decided in playoffs among the seventh to 10th placed teams in Premier I and the top four in Premier II.
The first round matches in the playoffs will be played on a home and away basis on Aug 6 and 9. The second round matches will be played on Aug 13 and 16.
Redzuan said that seeded teams would be separated from meeting in the playoffs. The seventh and eighth teams in Premier I and the champions and runners-up of Premier II will not face each other in the playoffs. The draw will be made on July 30.