The end is near, bring back the Singaporeans

I have the most horrible feeling that the only possible solution to the problem of the number of teams participating in Malaysian football leagues next season is an all-new league with teams from Singapore.

I am also fearful that unless we stop over-thinking or being paranoid of how Singapore’s inclusion would benefit our neighbours more and start addressing the problems of commercialisation and enriching our league’s competitiveness, our fans are going to enjoy their nights in an overcrowded mamak restaurant supporting football teams from a different continent.

They will surely miss the lousy, sloppy burgers sold at the stands because all the stadiums in Malaysia will be abandoned and the burger stall operators will return to selling burgers by the roadside.

Looking at the current number of teams that are ‘ready’ and have acquired the FA of Malaysia (FAM) club licence, the crisis of participation for next season seems to be a mathematical certainty, unless FAM announces, today, an extension. Not just for a month or two. But forever.

Since FAM is unlikely to do so, the Malaysian football league will collapse, which means that we can’t rely on the state affiliates when the league is at the brink of shrinking into squashed roadkill.

This also means the Malaysian Football League (MFL) will have to conform to the thoughts of coach B. Sathianathan and open the doors to Singaporean football clubs (not the national team) to compete here.

It’s a brilliant wheeze, but this would also mean that it is only reasonable for us to recognise Singaporean players as non-foreign players and allow their clubs to represent the league in regional club competitions like the AFC Champions League or the AFC Cup if and when they qualify on merit.

At present, based on the preliminary survey conducted by Bahas Bola, and as far as I can tell, the majority of football fans in Malaysia welcome the prospect of embracing clubs from the republic to play here.

However, a note of caution should be added – Bahas Bola assumes that most of the fans that engage in its Twitter polls are those who are more market-oriented.

Their support is also not exclusive to the club, as the reason could also be subject towards specific club players, managers, and other football personalities associated with the club.

The fan is not defined by a roving journey alongside the club but, instead, by keeping abreast of developments among clubs or football personalities in which he or she has a favourable interest.

Most fans that engage with Bahas Bola are identified in such a form of communion, made obvious via their consumption of the cold medium of social media.

Despite being well-read and very opinionated, these fans may lack the journey and experience alongside their football club.

Hence, their opinions and votes may differ from the more traditional type of fan – those who would regularly face all sorts of unnecessary complications when crossing the causeway and at the stadium, would either be restricted or their entry delayed.

Honestly, we should be a lot more objective and not let our emotions get in the way of making a sound decision.

There are clearly plenty of benefits by liberalising our football competitions, opening them up to our fellow neighbours.

Dissimilar to huge markets like China, US or Indonesia that have the luxury of looking inwards and becoming self-sustainable, we are a small market that needs an outlook that goes beyond our borders.

This is important.

Watching a football match between a local team and a club from Singapore is fine.

Going to a football match where the outcome doesn’t matter much because there are simply not enough teams and matches? I can’t think of anything else that is so sad and pointless.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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