LionsXII kicked out of MSL as Malaysia announce sweeping changes

LionsXII have been shown the exit door from the Malaysia Super League (MSL) after Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) announced drastic changes on Tuesday night, including disbanding Harimau Muda and increasing the clubs’ share of the 2016 MSL revenue.

In a blow to the Singapore club’s 2016 plans, 12 members of the FAM executive committee “unanimously voted against renewing the club’s stay in MSL” in a three-hour meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

It’s understood Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP) chief executive Kevin Ramalingam gave a compelling argument on why Malaysian football can do without LionsXII from the league’s perpective.

That, coupled with the Singaporean club’s refusal to commit to bearing the cost of visiting team’s accommodation and internal travel, meant it was the end of the road of a four-year partnership.

“We took into account the cost of our teams going there because of the exchange rate. We asked them (LionsXII) to cover this and vice versa when they travel here, but FA of Singapore (FAS) could not commit to this,” said FAM deputy president Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah.

“The response from local teams were not encouraging either. So we decided in the best interest of both parties, we do not continue the Memorandum of Understanding with FAS. We have not informed FAS of our decision.”

READ ALSO: FourFourTwo’s argument on whether LionsXII should stay or be kicked out.

There has been speculation members of LionsXII could form Singapore’s team in the mooted ASEAN Super League, which could commence in 2016, but no announcements have yet been made.

The team was in action last night, losing 4-1 away to Pahang in the first leg of the Malaysia Cup quarter-finals.

Members of the MSL since 2012, the decision to oust LionsXII from the MSL gives hope to relegated ATM and the Malaysia Premier League’s (MPL) third-placed T-Team, two sides that will square off in a one-legged playoff to fill the void in the top flight competition.

FMLLP chief Kevin Ramalingam

Kuala Lumpur will now fill the 12th spot in the MPL despite being relegated to the FAM League after finishing 11th last season.

The final axe on FAM’s Harimau Muda was wielded as the decision-makers bowed to pressure to disband the development set-up.

Razip Ismail’s under-22 charges and Hassan Sazali Waras’ talented under-19 boys will be released.

FAM, however, announced they will form a ‘Project 2017’ squad for the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and could name their coach as early as next week.

“We have shortlisted three coaches for the team, which is essentially our under-23 squad. We conduct interviews next week and could make an announcement by the end of the week,” said FAM deputy president Datuk Abdul Mokhtar, who also heads the taskforce looking at candidates.

“The national team vacancy will be filled then after. We have 70 applicants and are in the midst of shortlisting them. The executive committee gave us the mandate to make a final decision.”

The decisions taken by FAM are expected to allow FMLLP to move ahead with the planning of the league. Announcements in regards to league start date, match dates and official broadcaster are expected in the coming weeks.

FAM also announced that MSL and MPL teams will now receive 40 per cent of FMLLP’s revenue, an increase of 10 per cent.

The association’s treasurer Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said: “We need to re-assess how to factor in this increase and re-look into what was supposed to be for running of the league, FAM’s share and development of referees and youth.

“A final breakdown will confirmed after seeking advice from independent consultant.”