JDT making plans to ensure lasting dominance

Gabriel Guerra, Johor Darul Ta'zim, Super LeagueJohor Southern Tigers

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) Football Club intends to grow bigger, better and have no intention to stop pushing to reach greater heights. 

That was the message that came out after JDT held their congress on Wednesday. The four-times Super League champions are by far and large the best team in the country and by the looks of it, will be holding on to their supremacy for years to come.

Having taken over the team from 2013 and rebranded it, HRH Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim is making changes to secure the long-term future of the club and ensure that their legacies last for generations to come.

The owner of JDT who is also commonly referred to at TMJ also announced that Johor Malay Football Association, Johor Chinese Football Association and Johor Indian Football Association will be dissolved and replace with clubs status under one Johor Football Association (PBNJ) banner.

"Today in our reorganisation is to make us stronger and better. Success is not only measured in terms of trophies but from all aspects. From infrastructure, transportation, finances, commercial, the best fields down to what the players wear - that is the level of details we have to put in that will make us a success."

"Our agenda now is sustainability, where the club has the power to sustain for 20 - 30 years to come. We don't have to depend on sponsors every year, that can be a bonus to us.

"What is more important is the plan and business modal for our club to last without depending on sponsors - with a budget of RM120 million that will go to the maintenance of the infrastructure, stadium and our academy.

"What we put in place today are policies that even if a day comes when I'm no longer here, when I'm no longer the President of the club, the club will still be in a good place and be as strong as ever. We have the agenda to be the first Malaysian club to be in the Asian Champions League, the highest level in Asian football," said TMJ on Wednesday.

Other changes were also made in the congress starting with the removal of Johor Darul Ta'zim II (JDTII) as a "feeder club" and will instead be part of the developmental team for JDT similar to practices in Europe. That is however subjected to ratification from the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP).

The impact of the change could mean that JDT will not be subjected to the ruling of compulsory fielding of four Under-23 players in each of their domestic matches in 2018.

TMJ also announced a restructuring of the organisation within JDT with Martin Prest being appointed as Sporting Director tasked with overseeing the JDT first team, Alistair Edwards remaining as Technical Director overseeing JDTII as well as all developmental squads on top of players' contract.

Wile Luciano Figueroa is appointed as the Club Ambassador and International Relations, being the face of the club and a role model to the players.

The Crown Prince of Johor also went on to reveal plans for 2018, proclaiming a high budget for JDT and their plans for new players. Currently Marcos Antonio, Gabriel Guerra, Gonzalo Cabrera and Mohammed Ghaddar are on the books as import players, with Hariss Harun earmarked for a return should the increase in foreign imports be approved by FMLLP stakeholders. 

"I want every year that JDT have a budget of RM120 - 160 million. Maintenance that is high and also signing of top quality players. Foreign players maybe only one or two. For local players for JDTII will be a lot. But for the first team maybe 3 to 4 new players," added TMJ.

That could mean only Hariss coming in next season although dipped form for the likes of Guerra and Ghaddar in the second half of the season could see them being in danger of being replaced. It still remains to be seen how big an impact the ankle surgery does to Antonio who doesn't have age on his side.

Past weeks have seen rumours circling around that JDT have made moves for several Malaysia Under-23 stars who illuminated the recent SEA Games, two centre backs a sign that JDT could be looking to improve a leaky defence.

All things point towards another year of dominance from The Southern Tigers, who will not be resting on their laurels any time soon.