By ERIC SAMUEL
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s official! Foreign players can pack their bags and head home soon.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) Council have decided to indefinitely shut the door on foreign players in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) from next season.
FAM deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin, while admitting that the MSL had failed to meet its objectives since its launch in 2004, said the foreign players had failed to contribute positively to the growth of Malaysian football.
The MSL was launched with the aim of reviving Malaysia’s ailing football fortunes in the region and to promote positive changes in the overall structure, organisation and attitude of the officials and players.
Khairy said many of the foreign players signed up were not of high standard and failed to draw in the crowds.
What he failed to add was that the poor financial management of their own affiliates had prompted FAM to take action.
Ironically, the FAM had slammed the door shut on foreign players from 1999 to 2001 because the foreign players then were of very high standard and had put the local players in the shade.
Khairy said the council were unanimous in their decision to adopt the findings of the two-day brain-storming session organised by FAM last month.
“It is for an indefinite period,” said Khairy of their decision to do away with foreign players at a press conference yesterday.
“Teams who have foreign players with existing contracts will have to terminate those deals. It is a unanimous call and no one (from the council) objected to it. In fact, Selangor and Kedah, who have qualified for the AFC Cup next year, also agreed that priority should be give to developing and strengthening the league.”
Khairy later revealed the format for the new season, which he said would kick off in January.
The Super League and Premier League will still comprise 14 teams each.
Kuala Muda Naza and KL Plus FC have been promoted to the top flight while Sarawak have been relegated to the Premier League.
FAM Cup champions and runners-up – Team of Terengganu and Johor Baru Municipal Council – have been promoted to the Premier League.
The other notable change for the new season is the match days. Super League matches will be played on Wednesdays and Sundays while the Premier League games will be on Mondays and Fridays.
Khairy said this was to avoid clashing with the English Premier League (EPL) matches and other popular events that are normally held on Saturdays.
Each Super League and Premier League team must field an Under-20 player in their starting line-up.
The FA Cup tournament will comprise of 28 teams (Super League and Premier League teams only).
The Malaysia Cup format for the new season has yet to be determined.
The President’s Cup will now be an Under-20 tournament (previously Under-21).
The Youth Cup (Under-19) has been scrapped.
The 2010 Sukma in Malacca will be an Under-20 competition (previously Under-23).
The national women’s football tournament to be revived next year.
The Felda Futsal League for men and women will comprise nine circuits.
Harimau Muda, under coach K. Rajagopal, will continue playing in the Premier League next season.
No maximum or minimum wage ceiling for players next season.