Friday, November 16, 2007


Does Indonesia need a Liga Super?

If all goes well, and it rarely does here, Indonesian football will see a major shake up (again) next season and will adopt a single division Liga Super comprising the top 9 clubs of the current East and West Divisions.

All fine and hunky dory. The current 36 team set up is too large and some of the distances difficult to cover. There just isn’t the quality in players, officials and infrastructure to go around.

But football here is about to enter a financial crisis and it sits rabbit like staring at the headlights, unwilling to act.

Central government last year prohibited local government from funding local football. Instead of receiving grants now clubs are receiving loans that may or may not be paid back. Football is a hot potato politically because the fans who go to games have little else to do in the way of entertainment. They are reluctant to go to the malls that the middle class populate for fear of standing out. And having no money to spend. They are also a potential vote bank come election time.

Further down the line the main source of sponsorship could dry up. Indonesia will be under pressure to prevent tobacco being financially involved in sports and if that happens then it’s goodbye to the sponsors of Liga and Copa Indonesia.

What’s left is a bloody great hole that could only be filled by on the run tycoons settled safely in Singapore with their embezzled billions.

A recent club gob fest pleaded with the government to allow public funding of the sport or they would boycott competitions next year. A dafter threat is hard to dream up. If you don’t give us any money then next season we won’t play football! Instead of thinking of ways to maximize a club’s income through sponsorship, gate receipts and merchandising clubs rather stick their heads in the sand, wave their butts in the breeze and beg the government to bail them out.

There are some privately owned clubs. Arema Malang, PKT Botang, Pelita Jaya and Semen Padang. Of course it can be done. It just takes vision, foresight. All the things career bureaucrats’ lack.

Perhaps instead of having a single divison next year we should get more regionalized. It’s daft that PSMS Medan for example would have to spend something like 15,000 USD flying to Persipura in far off Papua when that money does not exist.

Financially it surely makes more sense to have Sumatran teams play Sumatran teams. Javanese teams to play Javanese teams. And Bali. Perhaps have Papua and Maluku in one division and Kalimantin with Sulawesi in another. The top 2 clubs in each division could then get together and compete in the Indonesian Champions League.

Four ten team groups with each team playing home and away. Perhaps a third game at a neutral venue?

I know this contradicts the point I made earlier about insufficent resources to go round but maybe clubs could do with an all round tightening of belts. Let them concentrate on developing players and playing football, not seeing the inside of every airport in the country.

If the ultimate aim is to develop a league that can compete with the best in the region surely it's better done on a firm financial footing? There can be nothing worse than a Super Liga opening amid great fanfare then clubs finding out those long distance trips are just a flight too much.

So much time and money is tied up in travel that it makes sense to minimize that.

In the latest clubs meeting in Tangerang yesterday, most clubs will try to negotiate so that they are allowed to get government funding just like the past 10 years. Since this is Indonesia, I am not surprised that the rules can be bent and next year, clubs will still getting money from government funding.

Corruption is the real evil here, club like Persebaya has exhausted around US$170.000 in 7 months. Considering that they don't pay any big names in their squad, it remains questionable how such big funds can be exhausted in such short time. I think if clubs disclose their financial statement and spending to the public and dismiss inefficiency such as corruption, they can survive better.

Your idea of regional competition is great. It's very feasible but it will turn off sponsors. Now I wonder how vast country like Russia and China organizes its league. any info?
to be honest i have no idea. i do know at one stage chinese football was riven with corruption but as to whether the clubs are private or owned by governments remains to be seen

here i know bank mandiri used to sponsor liga but who now has the financial muscle to get involved if tobacco pulls out?

the problem is football is a mirror of society and the problems society faces are the same ones football has. when society cleans up...
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