Singapore Football

Was money the reason for FAM's decision?

The issue of the costs of travelling south of the Causeway has been put forward as one of the key reasons behind the Football Association of Malaysia's (FAM) decision to end the partnership with its Singapore counterpart. 

Malaysian clubs are reportedly united in not extending the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has seen the LionsXII competing in Malaysian competitions since 2012. 

While cost is a factor, sources reveal that there are other factors at play. 

"The costs of playing in Singapore are going up, the exchange rate is about RM3 to S$1 now, and it is getting expensive for clubs to play there," said former Malaysia national coach B Sathianathan, who asserts that Malaysia has benefited little from the MOU. 

FAM deputy president Affandi Hamzah told The New Paper on Tuesday that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) "did not commit to" FAM's request to have it foot the bill for Malaysian sides playing there in a quid pro quo system for the LionsXII's travel costs up north. 

But sources revealed that the FAS was willing to pay what would be about an $80,000 addition to their annual maximum projected travel costs of $180,000. 

Similar conflicting accounts on other matters have also come to light. 

Affandi told TNP that the FAM felt the MOU has been beneficial, with sources revealing expression of similar sentiments in FAM's official correspondence with FAS yesterday.

But the FAM's stance is not shared by several in Malaysia, including Sathianathan. 

He said: "I don't think it's (the MOU) served its purpose of development.

"After four years in the S.League, look at the performance of Harimau Muda at the South-east Asia Games." 

Harimau Muda are effectively the Malaysian youth development team.

In the 2013 edition of the SEA Games, Malaysia finished fourth but were booted out at the group stages earlier this year in Singapore. 

The Singapore national team made up primarily of LionsXII players, in comparison, won the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup and are now third in their World Cup qualification group. 

BROADCAST RIGHTS

Meanwhile, Football Malaysia LLP, the company that runs the MSL, is looking to take broadcast rights away from the LionsXII, a move that complicates matters. 

That would cost the Singapore side what is understood to be some $2 million that it earns from selling its rights to StarHub. 

Official meetings between FAS and FAM, before FAM's decision on Tuesday, gave the indication that Malaysia was keen on a four-year extension of the MOU, with the LionsXII allowed to employ up to four foreign players in what has been a team fully populated by Singaporeans.

But TNP understands that the FAS had instead indicated its desire for only a one-year deal, before the team move on to the proposed Asean Super League in 2017. 

UncategorisedFASmalaysia cupmalaysian super leaguelionsxii