After 18 months of waiting, Perak FA finally paid its coaches and players and this was made possible only after intervention by FAM. Perak would be disallowed from participating in the Super League if the association failed to honour its commitments to players and coaches.
It has been a very frustrating period when we saw a whole new squad of players and staff being paid for the 2009 season whilst others were owed money. What was more frustrating was that Perak FA did have the money as it owns lands and properties which could be converted into cash.
I took my case to FIFA and sought legal options with evidence supported by documents. It was a sad situation as I had two and a half great seasons with the association serving three excellent Presidents (Regent, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi and Dato’ Mahiyuddin). All were honourable gentlemen who supported the players fully including FAM General Secretary, Dato’ Azuddin, who helped us retrieve our wages.
The situation changed when there was a change in the state government. What was most baffling were the promises made by Anuar Hashim, who later became Secretary of Perak FA that we would be paid in full. They were empty promises. I know some of the foreign players have also taken their case to FIFA and I am sure the new Players Association will be acting on the local players behalf. This could be a great test case for them. The players played unpaid for three months while reaching the quarter finals of the AFC Cup – the furthest a Malaysian team had ever gone.
We were desperate to find the funds to travel to Lebanon and eventually the air fares were found. But a travelling party of six officials from the PR Government came along and spent most of the time shopping! They certainly didn’t contribute to the football whilst there. We only took 15 players and four staff to ensure that costs were at a minimum.
The then MB was preaching about values yet they were letting poor kampong boys go unpaid. I had to pay some of the young players myself. Dato’ Mahiyuddin and team captain, Ahmad Shahrul, were helping the others.
Under the presidency of Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi and Dato’ Mahiyuddin, we were breaking even and were making a profit on the AFC Cup. The inherited debts from previous administrations were the primary cause of the problem. It certainly did not help when we had people siphoning off income at the gates.
Another disappointing aspect was the appointment of a new coach to replace me whilst we were still playing. Karathu and Raja Azlan Shah, however, denied being appointed but secretly recruited new players while telling the regular players that they would be axed the following season. It had a destabilising effect on the squad. This extremely unprofessional behaviour ultimately backfired when almost all of the squad left. I was leaving regardless as I could not work with the new management. So, why be deceitful?
Perhaps it is time the Johor FC model be emulated as they seem to be the ideal professional model – steady development in a secure economic environment.