Hope for government to allow 2021 M-League to go on

B. Sathianathan

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid the uncertainties and threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Football Coaches Association of Malaysia (PJBM) president B. Sathianathan hopes that the 2021 Malaysia League (M-League) 2021 competition does not suffer the same fate as last season.

The former national squad head coach said such a situation would not only affect the players and team officials, but also all the other parties involved, and this would most likely ‘kill’ the local football industry.

“I think if we wait until Covid-19 subsides, many parties in the football industry will go bankrupt. So, we must think outside the box, football is not a sport played for fun, it is an industry,” he told Bernama today.

Sathianathan, 62, opined that with the implementation of strict and more comprehensive standard operating procedures (SOPs), there was no reason why the M-League could not be conducted in a controlled manner and prevent the spread of the pandemic among players and team officials.

He said the Malaysian Football League (MFL) or the government could adopt a similar approach to that used by most countries in Europe, which allowed league competitions to run with strict SOP compliance.

“With the SOPs in place, we can show the government that we are able to take on this responsibility efficiently, while each team must play their respective roles in ensuring that all the SOPs are complied with,” he said.

He said the M-League competition was also a form of entertainment for local football fans who looked forward to watching the game to relax and reduce their stress levels during these testing times.

However, he said if the movement control order (MCO) is extended, the commencement date of the league currently set for Feb 26, would need to be re-examined, as the teams would not be able to prepare in time.

“If by this week the government can allow team training sessions to be held, maybe by Feb 26 we will have no problem starting the league, but if the MCO is extended, and teams are still not allowed to train, it is impossible to start on that date,” he said.

He said ideally, players required at least a seven-week training period to reduce the risk of getting injured.

Last year, the Covid-19 pandemic saw the 2020 Super League and Premier League 2020 competitions postponed until the end of August, while some major M-League matches including the FA Cup and Malaysia Cup had to be cancelled.

However, the MFL on Friday confirmed that the 2021 M-League competition will not be cancelled, and that it is currently discussing and studying the mechanism to hold the competition during the MCO.

MFL is also expected to issue a media statement on the schedule for the local leagues in the coming week. – Bernama