Source : New SabahTimes
10th May, 2008
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will remain in the Premier League for a record fourth consecutive season as there is no more hope left for them to gain Super League promotion – not even through the back door – next season.
While changes for the new 2008/09 season look imminent, but there is no hint whatsoever that a playoff for Super League promotion is going to take place. The FA of Malaysia (FAM) General Secretary Dato Azzuddin Ahmad confirmed there will be changes to the M-League next season with both the Super League and the Premier League likely to be expanded.
“We want to have an even number of teams in the Super League and the Premier League … so for the new season, the Super League will have 14 teams and the same goes for the Premier League,” he said in an interview with the New Sabah Times Sport yesterday. Azzuddin, who was in town attending the AFC Under-14 Football Carnival’s Organising Committee Meeting, which Sabah will be hosting for the second time in June, added only one team from the just concluded Super League season will be demoted to the Premier League, which is Sarawak, who finished last in the 13-team league that was eventually won by Kedah.
Newly crowned Premier League champions Kuala Muda Naza and second-placed KL Plus will be promoted to the Super League to join the rest namely Kedah, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Pahang, Penang, Johor FC, Police, UPB-MYTEAM and DPMM Brunei. He pointed out that the decision was made last November.
With that in mind, it kills whatever hopes Sabah or even Kelantan have to gain entry into the Super League via the back door. “The decision is 99 per cent to be endorsed at the upcoming Supreme Council Meeting (FAM – on May 13),” he said. At the just concluded Premier League, Sabah finished a disappointing fourth place behind Kuala Muda Naza, KL Plus FC and Kelantan. Despite having a good start to their season, they slumped to several unexpected defeats in their campaign.
In another development, Azzuddin said they will look at all possibilities in trying to improve the standard of referring in the M-League. “We are seriously looking into this problem. We will discus this with the referees’ committee,” he said. At the same time, he also appealed to its affiliate members to assist them as FAM alone cannot solve the problem. “There are some States who are not holding or organising State Leagues. So this does not help the referees’ cause as there is no place for them to expose themselves. Like players, they too need exposure and to practice their knowledge.
He said sending referees to a referees’ college in Japan is one of the many ways they would look into solving the problem. And Azzuddin was frank enough to say that they are aware of the low standard of refereeing in the M-League and that they have been receiving complaints from teams. But he was quick to point out that these below-par referees are not spared the whip. He said: “There are a handful of referees that have been sidelined or suspended from officiating matches following reports from the match commissioners or complaints from teams.”