FourFourTwo's Telling It Like It Is: Steve Darby

Plenty of column space has been reserved for the saga between Kelantan FA and their former coach Steve Darby. But for the first time, Darby has penned his own thoughts in the first of a new series titled ‘Telling it like it is’, where we will give you rare weekly insights into some leading Southeast Asian football identities and issues…

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I have been asked a number of times whether I’m angry about the whole saga of Kelantan not paying me my due amounts on time.

It took two years, hundreds of emails, significant legal fees and many unanswered questions. And it still may not be over yet

Anger is the wrong emotion – perhaps frustration and disappointment are more appropriate words.

Frustration in that it took two years, hundreds of emails, significant legal fees and many unanswered questions to reach a conclusion.

And it still may not be over yet, as the final judgement given to me in Bahasa, not English, is still being analysed for its legality and accuracy of calculation.

Disappointment is also a key word in the way the whole scenario unfolded. I have no problem with the employer’s right to terminate an employee, provided the correct contractual and legal procedures are adhered to.

I could argue that being terminated while the team was in the FA Cup semi-finals, sitting fourth in the league and had just been faced with a horrendous AFC Cup schedule was unjust. But that is the employer’s right.

Darby coached Mumbai and Laos since leaving Kelantan

I also found out the decision via my players before I was formally told (in a restaurant at midnight), while it was also put on Facebook before I was told in person.  But if that is the way a club wishes to run its affairs then so be it.

I was offered a position as technical director of the club in lieu of head coach. This is a position I had said was much needed and the person who filled it should be fluent in Malay, if not Kelantanese, and have a strong playing and coaching background in the state.

I was offered the role, then “unofficially” told by an executive high up in the club that if I took up the position, the aim was to make my employment so unworkable I would resign and money would be saved.

Sadly it’s a ploy many clubs are trying to use, particularly against foreign employees. Sometimes it’s called resting! How embarrassing and degrading, not only for the employee but the employer too.

Do they think anyone believes this method of termination is anything but a money-saving exercise?

I was initially given a full contractual pay out by the FAM (Football Association of Malaysia) committee, but when this was appealed – and of course I have no problem with that – some of the grounds of appeal became hilarious.

Alongside South Korean coach Uli Stielike. Photo: KFA

It included a suggestion I had run away from Kelantan. Run away? The apartment was professionally cleaned, the car was returned full of petrol and all personal bills had been paid two weeks after my sacking. Not exactly the acts of someone trying to skip town.

Eventually after many written and verbal requests by my lawyers and myself a decision was made by the appeals committee to reduce my pay out due to me gaining employment in football after being terminated by Kelantan (I coached in the Indian Super league and the Laos national team after leaving Malaysia).

However I never received any information about how the financial calculations were determined.

[Continued with Steve's thoughts on political involvement in Malaysian football]