THE M-League has undergone another revamp for the umpteenth time and it remains to be seen if the latest restructure is the right way forward.

It was in March that MFL presented a proposal to FA of Malaysia (FAM), arguing that the pandemic was an opportunity to revamp the league for the benefit of all stakeholders.

The proposal was based on the premise that the youth league was disjointed, the financial stability of the league was at stake and the competition format was outdated.

The M-League format has been in existence since the Super League was launched in 2004, while the 12-team format has been in place since 2013.

MFL was in the opinion that the Premier League was not saleable to potential sponsors because it was neither a commercial product nor a proper technical development league.

Hence a reset of the league was needed to elevate the commercial and broadcast value.

Currently, a total of 12 teams are competing in the Super League while 10 are involved in the second-tier Premier League, with teams in both leagues having to play 22 and 18 matches respectively per season.

Of the 10 teams in the Premier League, six are club sides, three are feeder clubs and one is the FAM-NSC Project squad. This is where MFL find it difficult to sell the Premier League as a commercial product because the integrity of the competition has been compromised due to the presence of feeder clubs, where the players are free to join their Super League colleagues without proper guidelines.

The revamp from next season will see all six club sides in the Premier League gaining promotion to the Super League, with the bottom two having to go into a playoff against the two top sides in the amateur-level M3 League organised by AFL.
If the teams from M3 League manage to qualify for the Super League next season, they will have to complete the club licensing process that will be evaluated by the MFL.

But certain sections of the media have made it clear their opinion – that it is a recipe for disaster.

Now the feeder clubs in the current Premier League, Selangor FC II, Terengganu FC II and Johor Darul Ta’zim II, will move to the reserve league in 2023.

Under the new format, each Super League club must also have a reserve side, an Under-20 (President’s Cup) team and an Under-18 (Youth Cup) team.

But Increasing the Super League to 18 teams will increase the number of matches played which may not be beneficial to the six promoted from the Premier League.

The number of foreign quota – nine to be registered – will deny local talent a platform to perform.

Another concern is the congested fixtures. As opposed to the 33 match days for the 2021 season which included the Malaysia Cup, there will be 34 match days for the Super League alone.

There could also be integrity issues since there is a huge number of teams in a single competition, clubs that stand no chance for the AFC slots can be determined as early as mid-season.

And since AFL clubs are required to play-off matches with the Super League clubs, this will favour the big boys, the mighty ones with financial muscle.

With the Premier League being scrapped, where will the amateur clubs hone and adapt their situation before entering the Super League?

Perhaps it is too soon for MFL to restructure the league since M3 had kicked off earlier this year with clubs having set their sights at the Premier League next year.

Since AFL is the league organiser for the third-tier and below, they will find it hard to add value to the competition if none of the teams are promoted to higher divisions. And if the gap is just to big, chances of the league being compromised will be higher.

Ultimately, it is our wish that the changes would yield the desired result and a stronger and better quality league from all aspects.

Now we shall wait and see, what will be the script in 2023.