Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Who Really Needs An ASEAN Super League?

So the old ASEAN Super League has raised it head again, with organisers suggesting a start date of August 2016...plenty of time for local fans to watch the Euro 2016 and of course which ever big European sides deign to visit the region.

Apparently FIFA have agreed to the ASL even though no one, least of all the organisers, seems to have a scooby what the league will look like. I imagine this would be a rather important detail what with sponsors needed and of course fans to whip into shape ahead of the season.

So what will the league look like and what teams will be involved. Is it me or are the only stories I ever see about this ASL are in Singapore papers? It's almost as if they are the only ones interested! And why not as word seeps out they are considering taking the ever decreasing SLeague semi professional, in effect holding their hands up and saying they have no idea how to market or run a full time, professional league in an affluent country of 5 million football fans.

Indonesia? From this distance there is no guarantee they will be back in FIFA's good books by then and anyway, they can't even organise their own competitions, let alone pay salaries or stick to a fixture list; surely pre requisites in a pan ASEAN would hope.

But even if the Indonesian domestic football scene was running as normal what would they gain by joining an ASL? They already boast, on a good day, the most vibrant league in the region with clubs that have identity and history as well as a football culture other nations can only look at with great jealousy.

Persija in an ASL? Do me a favour! They are serial non payers of salaries and in any one season up to half their home games are played outside of Jakarta due to various reasons like political rallies or crowd trouble or some airhead had previously booked the stadium for a concert of airheads to be witnessed by 50,000 screaming airheads waving camera phones in the air and swooning on demand.

Other contenders would be Persib and Arema perhaps while as for Persebaya...well, which one?

Franchising could be an option but then who would be the franchise holder? Indonesia isn't India where famous celebrities bid for teams in their Indian Super League last year. Indonesian money tends to be congregated in the hands of a few political/commercial dynasties who, shall we say, don't usually do PR. A football club backed by a company that makes its billions chopping down trees? Or would it just be a football club backed by the ruling family of Indonesian football in which case we had all better hope the FIFA suspension stays in place.

Wouldn't Singapore look funny in an ASL if they force the SLeague to go semi pro? LionsXII seem to do fine in Malaysia, they enter a team in the ASL but no one gives a shit about a local league beyond the pools company who look to Uncle Joo and his mates to keep blindly handing over their dosh no questions asked.

With a lack of leadership coming from the FAS beyond the usual business school spin and the string of strategic reviews you would think they should be focussing on getting their own house in order before contemplating another team playing outside the country.

Malaysia is kind of like Indonesia. A long, well established football tradition with some well known clubs. Would Selangor want to take time out to compete outside their comfort zone? As for franchises, well why not? Vincent Tan and Tony Fernandez have done such sterling work with their teams while raising the profile of Malaysia in West London and South Wales.

But given Malaysia's ideas of football club names, MyTeam (RIP), Sime Darby, ATM, PDRM, MISC-MOFA etc you hate to think what they would try and call a team. You may know my feelings about a certain team in North London but at least they have an identity. MISC-MOFA?

The Thais are an interesting one. The likes of Buriram United and Muang Thong United seem content to hoover up the competitions domestically, Buriram have been doing well in the AFC Champions League and that national team ain't too bad within ASEAN is it? Basically, have the Thais outgrown ASEAN?

There is always politics of course and would the FAT, or the boss of the FAT, known as FAT head (?), see an ASL as an opportunity to flex some muscle which they are not always able to do in the domestic league what with all them puu yai flexing their muscle and amassing lashes of face.

An ASL without Indonesia, Malaysia and or Thailand seems inconceivable. Rather like a war without the Americans involved, it would like headlines and oomph.

For now of course it is all supposition. Until more details are announced I guess the only thing we can confirm about any ASL is that face painters will have a blast and we will see Mexican waves from Myanmar to Manila...

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