WILL Fifa's transfer loan reforms to prevent clubs from stockpiling talents affect the M-League?
World football's governing body have come up with several rules for the 2024 transfer window. This is to ensure that players are not left to rot if they are not in a club's senior set-up.
The issue of on-loan players in the M-League cropped up after Melaka United coach Asri Ningal revealed that their striker Ifedayo Olusegun, and defenders Fadli Shas and Syazwan Andik were ineligible to play against their parent club, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT).
However, on Saturday, Melaka United owner Datuk Justin Lim said in a statement that Ifedayo is on full contract with the Mousedeer and that only Fadhli Shas and Syazwan are on loan from JDT.
Notably, Melaka did not field Ifedayo, the 2020 Super League Golden Boot winner, against JDT in a Super League match at Hang Jebat Stadium on Saturday. Despite Ifedayo's absence, Melaka, ninth in the Super League table. held Johor to a 1-1 draw.
Cash-rich JDT, who have great depth in their team, are known to amass top players from around the league and loan them out.
JDT owner Tuanku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim was reported to have said recently that he signed naturalised players -midfielder Liridon Krasniqi and striker Guilherme De Paula — to prevent other teams from signing them, but this did not go down well with some fans.
Football legend Datuk Jamal Nasir said M-League clubs who take players on loan must be prepared to deal with the issue that will come sooner or later.
"We can't blame teams that loan out their players because it is allowed by Fifa. This happens globally and is an accepted practice worldwide. You can't stop it but if Fifa want to revise the number of loanees, it would be good.
"The biggest culprit in this issue is the clubs that take players on loan. No one forced them to complete the five foreign players quota especially when they cannot afford it.
"Having three import players is enough if you don't have the budget. What's the point of taking players on loan if you are desperate for results and you can't use them?"
Generally, M-League clubs who get players on loan, cannot field them against their parent clubs in corresponding matches.
Fifa's new loan rules include a limit on the number of "loan players" per season between the concerned clubs. At any given time during a season, a club may only have a maximum of three professionals loaned out to a single club and a maximum of three professionals loaned in from a single club.
There will also be restrictions on a club's total number of "loan players" per season starting with a maximum of eight players before being reduced to six. To ensure that this is implemented smoothly, there will be a three-stage transitional period.
Melaka have been taking players on loan from JDT for the last couple of seasons. Last year, they got Gary Steven Robbat from JDT, and Hasbullah Abu Bakar, S. Kumaahran and Che Rashid Che Halim from JDT II.
In 2019, JDT loaned out their former captain Safiq Rahim and winger R. Gopinathan to other league teams.
It is reported that JDT have loaned out 10 players this year, and seven of them were to M-League teams.