Charting the path to Malaysian football's future: FMLLP discusses key topics of the seasons ahead

Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) CEO Kevin Ramalingam opens up about the packed league schedule, a congress and licensing issues to Hardeep S...

It was a rollercoaster season for Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) in its first year managing the Malaysian League.

There were grouses over the league’s hectic schedule, the long break between the penultimate and the final round of matches in the second half of the season and the countless poor decisions made by referees in matches.

FMLLP were also criticised by teams for matters not under its jurisdiction such as legal and disciplinary issues.

Having experienced all these challengers, FMLLP have now pledged to work harder and make upcoming seasons grander and better.

CEO Kevin Ramalingam acknowledged that FMLLP did not anticipate some of the issues that prompted up in the just-concluded season.

Ramalingam recently revealed to FourFourTwo some of the things that fans can expect in the upcoming season and the season after that.

The league schedule

Many teams criticised FMLLP for the hectic schedule in recent season.

Perak coach Karl-Heinz Weigang labeled the schedule ‘inhumane’ while some teams blamed it for their poor performances due to fatigue and injuries.

But the bad news is that Ramalingam does not expect the schedule to be any better next season.

FMLLP have drawn up a schedule of 41 match days in total for domestic competitions after taking account the international breaks, public holidays, the Ramadan month and the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in August.

Next season will be hectic due to the SEA Games in August. The league will go on a break a week before the biennial games and will still end in October.

- Kevin Ramalingam

FMLLP’s proposed schedule, which is awaiting approval, tentatively starts in mid-January and ends in October.

The Malaysia Super League (MSL) and the Malaysia Premier League (MPL) will go on a three-week break for the SEA Games in August.

But the super-packed domestic schedule means the national team will not have the privilege of assembling for longer periods ahead of matches.

From next year, the league will only take short breaks to accommodate the national team outside the FIFA calendar.

National trainees will only gather seven or less days ahead of matches unlike in some periods of the recent season, where they had trained 10 or more days for games.

“We drew up the schedule in advance for the recent season but it had to be amended. The season was supposed to start in mid-January but it was pushed forward to mid-February as teams wanted a longer preseason,” Ramalingam told FourFourTwo.

“The season was tight as in some periods, teams had to play matches every two or three days but the schedule in Malaysia is not as taxing as leagues in Europe.

There were complaints of a crowded fixture list, but that is unlikely to change

“We had 41 match days and two catch-up dates last season, and we used all of them. Next season will be hectic due to the SEA Games in August.

“The league will go on a break a week before the biennial games and immediately restart after that. Next season will, however, still end in October.”

A sponsor wouldn’t want to invest in a club that plays for only five months in a season.

- Kevin Ramalingam

FMLLP will also not shorten the durations of the MSL and MPL next season as the move will not bring any technical and commercial benefits to teams.

“We cannot start in January and end the league in July as teams who do not qualify for the Malaysia Cup will lose out in terms of sponsorship and quality matches.

“A sponsor wouldn’t want to invest in a club that plays for only five months in a season.

“We want all teams to be involved until the end of the season. It’s a move that will benefit teams in the long run,” he added.

FMLLP also do not plan to increase the number of teams at the moment and there will be no format change in all competitions next year.