BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Economic uncertainties that followed the change in political powers in Malaysia earlier this year have affected many in the country, and Malaysian football too has not been able to elude this downturn.
As a result, several clubs have had to shut down their operations, which in turn has affected domestic competitions for the following year. Most recently, the Malaysian FA announced that the third tier competition, the FAM Cup, will be contested as a knockout competition instead of as a league competition, partly due to the lack of interest shown by clubs.
Clubs that will compete in 2019 however, will do so in a more prudent manner. One example is Felda United, who won promotion to the Super League as 2018 Premier League champions, whose decision to reduce their players and staff salary has seen them lose head coach B. Satiananthan to Selangor, as well as several key players.
PKNS FC, despite ending their 2018 top tier campaign in third place, their highest ever finish in the Malaysian pyramid, too have had to shrink their wage bill as part of their 2019 season preparations. This decision has led to the departure of several of their stars, such as Singapore international Faris Ramli and former Malaysia striker Safee Sali.
But according to head coach Datuk Rajagobal Krishnasamy, the need to be more prudent is simply another challenge that he and the club need to overcome ahead of the coming season.
"It is definitely a challenge for every coach (to have to reduce spending), but we are working with what has been given to us. The club management understands this, and we are concentrating on the requirements that we need.
"We need to identify the most important aspects, and carry on from there. We also need to see this positively, while maintaining our competitiveness," he explained to Goal when met after their pre-season friendly match against MISC-MIFA on Saturday.
The former AFF Championship winning-coach also described the financial woes currently faced by Malaysian clubs as a situation that the fraternity can learn from.
"This could be a good thing; every club needs to work within their budget, and the situation will force the management to stop overpaying players," remarked Rajagobal.
"This will require us to look more carefully at our budgets, which should be the way, rather than suffering [financially, at a later point]. We all need to view this issue positively and get it right. I don't think that the reduction in players' wages will affect Malaysian football adversely. It isn't a setback."
The Red Ants' recent signings have seemingly proven that the club are becoming more astute, despite their financial limitations.
Despite the departure of experienced players, they have managed to retain younger players such as striker Jafri Chew and defender Rodney Celvin Akwensivie, while capturing the service of their Malaysia U-23 teammate Tommy Mawat Bada. In the meantime, they have also signed Liberian forward Kpah Sherman from MIFA, and Melaka United centre back Nicholas Swirad.
Follow Goal Malaysia 's Instagram account to see photos and watch videos!