THE economic crisis, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, has started to kick in at football clubs around the world.
Even the top clubs in Europe, the financial powerhouses of global football, are struggling to stay afloat. Without revenue coming in, they do not have enough reserves to withstand the catastrophic period. And the situation is expected to get worse.
La Liga’s Barcelona may be one of the biggest clubs in the world but they are considering a pay cut of up to 70 per cent for all their players. In Germany, Bayern Munich’s players and their counterparts from the Bundesliga have agreed to accept reduced wages.
In England, the Premier League is in discussion with the Professional Footballers’ Association on deferring wages.
Football in the M-League has come to a standstill for the last 11 days. And everyone is expecting it to restart after Hari Raya in late May — that is if the Covid-19 outbreak is no more.
For now, no matches mean no money from gate receipts, and before long, the financial sponsorships from corporations and broadcasters may come to a stop too.
Kedah and Selangor have admitted that they are already feeling the heat while Kelantan do not hide their intention to slash players’ salaries.
With the M-League already in a pathetic state in recent years due to many teams being unable to raise the commercial value of the competition and attract more sponsors, it will not be a surprise if the Covid-19 pandemic causes the league to go bust.
The FA of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysia Football League (MFL) may have the “power” to ban clubs, impose fines and dock points if they do not pay salaries. But in these trying times, is it wise to punish teams who are already suffering?
We can expect a lot of problems or sad stories soon, as even before the arrival of Covid-19, some M-League clubs were already struggling to pay salaries.
In view of the situation, the professional footballers in the M-League can forget about getting their salaries in full. They can’t expect the clubs to have a magic lamp to call upon a genie to fill up their bank accounts.
It is quite a bad situation for FAM and MFL, but they need to come up with an acceptable solution for all parties.
FAM and MFL finally came out of their caves yesterday to issue a press statement, urging clubs to hold discussions with their players on how to cushion the devastating impact brought upon by the killer bug.
They have urged all parties, notably the clubs and players, to “give and take”, and have an open mind with regards to wages, contract and welfare.
The press statement is a desperate plea from FAM and MFL to M-League teams. It is an attempt to salvage the league.
Both the governing bodies know they are “powerless” as imposing sanctions and fines on the clubs will only worsen the situation.
Football is a business. No revenue means no income to pay salaries. It’s as simple as that.
However, I hope the clubs will not take advantage of the situation at the expense of their players.
It would be really embarrassing, not only for the clubs but to FAM and MFL, if players had to withdraw RM500 a month from the EPF, which is their own hard-earned money, to survive.
If the M-League shutdown continues until August or later, the financial impact on the M-League could be ruinous and irreparable. Only two or three teams are strong enough to survive the “coronacalypse”.