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Following relegation, Pulau Pinang president Zairil says bye-bye

07:43 GMT+3 09/10/2017
Zairil Khir Johari, Pulau Pinang, 06022017
Pulau Pinang FA president and local politician Zairil Khir Johari resigns, holding himself responsible for the Panthers' relegation from the MSL.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Pulau Pinang look set to be relegated to the Premier League after the 2017 season is over, but its president is not waiting around any longer.

On Monday, Zairil Khir Johari announced his resignation as the Pulau Pinang FA (FAP) president, stating that he bears full responsibility for the failure to keep the Panthers in Malaysia's top tier.

"As president of the Pulau Pinang Football Association (FAP), I take full responsibility for the failure of the team this season, and will resign with immediate effect.

"Although my journey with the FAP was short, but I went through a lot. The management and I have done our best. Initially, we brought in a foreign coach who had a brilliant record and when it did not work out, replaced him with local football legend Zainal Abidin Hassan. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be," wrote Zairil on his social media.

The 34-year old local politician had just been elected as president in February, replacing his predecessor Datuk Seri Nazir Ariff, who was popular with the fans. Almost instantly there was backlash against him, and the performance of the team failed to silence his critics.

Out of 23 competitive matches the Panthers have played in this season, 16 of them ended in defeats.

They had been promoted to the Super League for the 2016 season after a five-year absence, but were constantly threatened by relegation in the two years they played in the top tier. In both years they failed to qualify for the Malaysia Cup, while in the 2016 season they needed a last-gasp winner in their last league match to avoid relegation.

Interestingly, the 2016 FIFA Puskás Award was won by Pulau Pinang's Faiz Subri, who scored a physics-defying freekick in their 4-1 league match win over Pahang.