Out of Malaysia league, but not out of the game

It is a great disappointment to learn that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) has decided not to renew the memorandum of understanding with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) ("S'pore out of Malaysian league, leaving LionsXII in limbo"; last Thursday).

It speaks volumes of the level of professionalism that the FAM chose to announce the decision to the media without first informing the FAS.

The decision is badly timed and surely the FAM could have been more sensitive and reasonable.

As a Singaporean, I disagree with reports which have attempted to sensationalise the decision as one in which the LionsXII have been kicked out or expelled from the Malaysia Super League.

This latest development presents a good opportunity for us to rebuild the S-League.

The LionsXII project has shown that local fans will support a good product if it is well marketed.

There is no basis for anyone to suggest that the LionsXII have been expelled from the Malaysian tournaments.

The fact is that one party decided not to renew the agreement and, hence, both sides simply have to move on.

However, this latest development presents a good opportunity for us to rebuild the S-League.

The LionsXII project has shown that local fans will support a good product if it is well marketed.

The likes of Khairul Amri and Faris Ramli have attracted a large fan base, and it is now up to the S-League to leverage their appeal to win fans across the country.

I was happy to read from Khairul's Instagram post that the FAS spoke to him on the day of the announcement and that it is in discussions with other players.

This shows that the FAS is always prepared for various scenarios.

Now is the time when we should stand firmly behind the FAS and the team, and support them in turning this issue into opportunities that will have a lasting impact on the development of local football.

With the likes of top technical coaches such as Michel Sablon and Richard Tardy joining the FAS in recent months, we have every reason to be optimistic about the future of local football.

Melvin Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'Out of Malaysia league, but not out of the game'. Print Edition | Subscribe