Unpaid salaries could lead to Kelantan exodus

Kelantan, the 2012 Malaysian treble winners, are in a crisis and Australian defender Jonathan McKain feels the club must quickly make Kota Bahru comfortable again. In an interview with FourFourTwo, he admits he is contemplating his future…

The Red Warriors have financial woes this year. Salaries have not been prompt since July and are occasionally delayed by a couple of months.

Kelantan have also not paid RM636,000 (S$210,000) to former coach Steve Darby for compensation after the Football Association of Malaysia found the club guilty of wrongful termination.

Kelantan FA (Kafa) president Tan Sri Annuar Musa reportedly took out a bank loan to settle dues with players, but payments have still been delayed. Those at the club have refused to speak on the record, often giving only a smile when quizzed about the issue.

McKain, who also chose not to provide an update on his salary status, feels the club could lose players if it fails to get things in order. The former Australian international’s contract runs out in December.

“We are in pretty interesting times ... about the salaries and such. Many don’t know the details and what’s actually going on, but it is difficult for the players and those here,” McKain said.

“Hopefully the club can arrange the off-field stuff and make Kelantan a much easier place to stay next year.

“As for myself, I am not sure whether to stay. I’m still deciding. Come late November or early December, I’ll sit with the club and talk about what their plans are and see what I want to do.

“I certainly enjoy the football. The crowd is fantastic and we even have huge numbers for away games. This is surely one of the biggest clubs in Malaysia.”

Unpaid salaries vs poor performance

Kelantan limped to a ninth place finish in this season's Malaysia Super League (MSL), suffering 10 league defeats along the way, and they are currently bottom of their group in the ongoing Malaysia Cup.

The team did reach the FA Cup final, only to lose out 3-1 to LionsXII, but with so much talent at their disposal the Red Warriors have not lived up to expectations.

When asked if off-field issues made it difficult for the players to stay focused, thus affecting performance, McKain said : “That’s easy … 100 per cent yes.”

Kelantan did at least keep their Malaysia Cup hopes alive after securing a 2-2 draw with Felda United at the Selayang Stadium on Saturday. The 33-year-old McKain thanked goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat for keeping them in the competition and said he always knew the latter could be relied upon.

“We were a bit lucky in the second half. Khairul Fahmi saved us on numerous occasions,” McKain said.

“We should not have opened up so much, but then again we had to play it risky considering we needed points. There was confidence that Khairul Fahmi would save us if they broke through.

“We have to go for the win again against T-team in the final match. We need to fight and be competitive again … that’s all you could ask for, really. You can’t guarantee wins.”

Kelantan are just one point away from both second-placed Felda and T-Team, who are third. Kelantan have amassed five points and must defeat T-Team in Kota Bahru on November 8 to be in contention for the Malaysia Cup's last eight.

Group A winners Selangor have an unassailable four point lead at the top of the table.