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JDT and beloved former coach heading for court as salary dispute turns nasty

Sacked as Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) gaffer on the eve of the 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) campaign, Mario Gomez’s issue with the club is turning ugly after the new Persib Bandung coach claimed the Southern Tigers owe him money. JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has responded by daring Gomez to take the matter to court.

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The Argentine is a fan favourite in Johor Bahru after winning two MSL titles and the coveted 2015 AFC Cup, but there is clearly no love lost between Gomez and the JDT hierarchy.

Gomez had told the Malay Mail that he was in the midst of reporting JDT to FIFA over unpaid salaries after his sudden sacking in January. He claimed Tunku Ismail had sent lawyers to discuss a settlement but an agreement could not be reached.

I’m the Crown Prince of Johor. I don’t need to mention how much I am worth

“We will see each other in court soon. They do not want to pay my salaries. My lawyer and I are working on presenting my case to FIFA. I will give them very sensitive information,” Gomez told the local daily.

That has not gone down too well with Tunku Ismail, with the club posting two short statements on its Facebook page attributed to the Crown Prince, who is also the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president.

“Keep on trying, Mario … $$$. Please take me to court because I have never been in one and I would like to experience it,” read one of Tunku Ismail’s statements.

The second one, which went up minutes later, questioned the logic of JDT – the richest team in the country – not paying its dues.

“I’m the Crown Prince of Johor. I don’t need to mention how much I am worth. Does it make any sense that I am not able to pay a mere (USD) 60 thousand dollars (RM240,000)?”

JDT technical director Alistair Edwards then issued a statement on the page and revealed more details of Gomez’s contract, including an odd arrangement with assistant coach Raul Longhi, who is still in that role at the club.

I advise him to get the correct legal advice before uttering rubbish to the media

- Alistair Edwards

“We do not intend to air this issue in public but because Gomez has decided to so, we are left with little choice but to do the same. He has made a statement that JDT owes him salary payments. This is simply not true and mischievous on behalf of Gomez,” read the statement.

“The fact is that as part of Gomez's contract with JDT he was required to pay the salary of his assistant. Gomez initially paid this amount directly to Longhi and then later he asked our club secretary to make the payments directly.

“Since 2015, JDT has paid this salary component directly from Gomez's salary as per his specific request and in line with Gomez's contractual obligations.

"I advise him to get the correct legal advice before uttering rubbish to the media. There is a proper channel in the legal system and hence he shouldn’t try to gather empty polemics by starting a trial via the media.

"Our line-up of lawyers are prepared with all the facts because we are confident that the actions taken are accurate (and) in line with the rules of law.”