Where is Selangor fans' outrage over the Puncak Alam training complex?

Selangor FA
The Red Giants faithful have been pushing for their club to be let to return to Shah Alam, but it seems they have neglected one other facility.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

With days remaining before the start of the 2018 M-League, 33-time Malaysia Cup champions Selangor are still finding a home venue that can let them hold evening kick-offs.

Although vice president K. Palanisamy has met state youth and sports executive councillor Amirudin Shari on Monday to discuss the use of their former home ground the Shah Alam Stadium, it is unlikely that the issue will be resolved anytime soon.

Selangor fan clubs however have taken it upon themselves to form a coalition in order to push the state government to 'return' the Shah Alam Stadium to the club. On Wednesday, they are scheduled to hold a press conference in Shah Alam on the matter.

Strangely enough, the fans seemed to have forgotten that the venue is not the only thing that the state government has denied to the club, since the Selangor state Menteri Besar (chief minister) Dato' Seri Azmin Ali acrimoniously stepped down as club president at the end of the 2016 season.

On top of the stadium, the newly-built training complex in the Shah Alam suburb of Puncak Alam too has not been handed to the club.

By most accounts, the complex, which at one point had already been decorated with the club emblem and liveries, was built for the club as compensation by the state for taking over a valuable plot of club-owned land in the neighbourhood of Kelana Jaya. The complex was complete although the club, for some reason, did not move in immediately.

And when the bitter falling out between the state and the club took place at the end of the 2016 season, Azmin's government took down the club decorations, let other parties use it as a training ground for youth footballers and simply refused to hand over the keys.

Mid-way through the 2017 season, new club president Dato’ Sri Subahan Kamal made a fuss over the state's action and stated that they would take legal action, but nothing has been heard since that.

Almost all of the fan pages have called for the return of the Shah Alam Stadium, a facility that is not owned by the Red Giants in anyway since the ground was opened in 1994 (it is owned by the state government).

Shah Alam Stadium, SEA Games, 21082017

Shah Alam Stadium

But peculiarly enough none of them have called for the return of the training ground, something that the club have much better claim to, in terms of ownership.

Simply put, the club need the training ground more than they need the Shah Alam Stadium.

Attendance at the 80,000-capacity stadium had declined in the final years of Selangor's use, and even when they played the top sides the tickets were rarely sold out. When they played at the much-smaller Selayang Municipal Council Stadium last year, the attendance was not any better.

At the end of the day, the call for the use of Shah Alam is simply a matter of pride for the fans, who can't bear things having changed from how it used to be. 

Whereas for the training complex is a facility that the club (or any club for that matter) need if they want to grow.

The Puncak Alam complex, renamed since to the Akademi Bolasepak Merah Kuning, seems capable of housing training facilities such as gym and recovery area that are needed by a club.

The fans need to realise that apart from better pay, many of their players have left the club for Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) because of their far superior training facilities, where they can grow their careers. This is what they can't get from Selangor, who currently have to use one of the National Sports Complex (MSN) pitches in Bukit Jalil to train. A club-owned dedicated training facility may just stem that flow of players.

And if it is pride that is of concern to the Red Giants faithful, let me relate an embarrassing incident that I witnessed myself. On one day in the first week that Selangor began training in Bukit Jalil, an overzealous MSN staff had raised a stink with the club officials at the fact that the players and staff had parked their cars where they should not have. These were football stars, and a lower level government servant was treating them like people who had begged for a small business permit. As a Selangor fan myself, the incident gave me second hand humiliation, realising how far the club have fallen from their position as Malaysia's glamour club.

P. Maniam, Selangor, 09012018

Selangor training at the MSN pitch

And that is what most of the Selangor fans have not realised, that much of the club's failing in the past years is due to it taking for granted what they had. The club thought they would always get to play in Shah Alam, they thought they would always have state funding, and that they would always be the club that all Malaysian footballers want to play for.

If they want to pressure the powers that be, Selangor fans need to push them into doing what's good for the club in the long run. Not being able to play in a stadium that they can't fill week in and week out is a relatively small issue, while not having their own training ground is a more pressing concern. 

They need to push harder for the training complex's return, instead of the use of the Shah Alam Stadium.