KUALA LUMPUR: The FA of Malaysia (FAM) are one of the most expensive associations to run. They need RM30 million annually to fund their domestic leagues as well as to cater for the needs of the various age-group national teams for international stints and preparations.
The high cost of operation includes RM24 million on subsidies for their affiliates (state FAs and clubs to run their M-League teams) and the balance is barely enough for their other competitions and to prepare the national teams for assignments.
The FAM have struggled to come up with a formidable national senior team for more than two decades and now that the government have decided to give them full support, they will strive to work towards bringing Malaysian football back to the fore.
The FAM president, Sultan Ahmad Shah, said that they were looking at three major areas of support from the government – the management aspect of the national teams, setting up of a training centre in every state and staffing.
He said at a press conference at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel here after chairing the FAM's finance committee meeting yesterday: “I think we need to sit down together and discuss how we can streamline what needs to be done.”
The Sultan added that they already had in place several plans, which had been submitted to the relevant authorities for assistance.
“First of all, I would like to thank the Cabinet Sports Committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for including football among the eight sports associations to receive support from the government.” he said.
“I am sure that whatever is done will be for the better of the FAM and for sports in general.”
The FAM secretary general, Datuk Dell Akbar Khan, said that the hiring of professional staff was a costly affair.
“It is not cheap. It is a big break for the FAM now that we have support from the government. The game has grown faster and more physically demanding.
“The national team can't just train locally. They need big matches and the best is in Europe and unless they get that kind of exposure, we are going to lag behind in the sport,” said Dell.
Malaysian football has been in the doldrums for a long time even though the FAM had introduced various formats to lift the game in domestic competitions – from the semi-pro era in 1989 to the introduction of a fully professional league in 1994. This year, the FAM launched the Super League.
Malaysia are now ranked 117th in the world and the Sultan, who has been at the helm of the FAM since 1984, said that they would leave no stone unturned in their bid to breathe new life into the game.
He also felt that they should focus on development programmes in schools if they hoped to achieve the desired results.
“The schools are the one area that we must work hard on at grassroots level.
“Therefore, we hope to get the co-operation from the Education Ministry to provide the basic facilities and football fields,” said the Sultan.
He also hoped that the Janda Baik Sports Complex, which includes a 10-acre FAM Sports Training Centre, would be completed in the next few years.