Thursday, January 29, 2015


PBR Need To Move To Survive?

Imagine someone buying Hartlepool United, moving them to Newcastle and renaming them Newcastle Poolies. It would not be a popular move and from a financial viewpoint it would be a disaster. Unlike much of life, Newcastle is black and white. Parachuting another team in the city would not even be considered.

Something similar in Indonesia. Bandung is blue, the blue of Persib. Trying to have a second team compete, well it is frankly daft. During the half a season of the Premier League back in 2011 Bandung FC were forced to play their home games in Kuningan in a bid to attract fans. Same province by most definitely not Bandung.

Last season Pelita Bandung Raya played their home games at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Soreang, just outside Bandung. Again, it is a bit like Hartlepool United playing their home games at St James's Park. Big arena with banks of empty seats and the only noise coming from the benches as coaches try to pass on instructions.

For the upcoming season PBR had hoped to use Siliwangi Stadium, located close to the centre of Bandung but it looks like the authorities are for some reason not going to allow them. So, the search is on for a new venue.

In a previous guise as Pelita Jaya the club have played home games in Jakarta, Cilegon, Solo, Purwakarta, Soreang and was not till they moved to the latter did they get any kind of support. But as is too often the case in Indonesia, when Pelita Jaya were taken over by Bandung Raya, the bonds built in Karawang were snapped and they moved to Bandung.

The fans did not follow.

Yesterday saw PBR play a friendly with Persikad, who themselves have been forced to relocate to Purwakarta, amid rumours the club were considering relocating to Bekasi, in West Java but much closer to Jakarta.

The PBR massive were out in force, well two of them, to protest any move to Bekasi saying their club is Bandung Raya, not Bekasi Raya. Quite.

Bekasi does make sense on one level. There is a large new stadium gathering rust and dust after the local team were not given permission to use it. But of course it is unclear how Bekasi's existing teams, Persipasi and Persikasi, would react to a proposed move.

My default mode is always to support the underdog and keep football traditions. Hence I prefer Wimbledon to MK Dons. But the fact remains a PBR in Bandung is always going to struggle for fans except when they host Persib. And gate revenue is getting to be more and more important in Indonesian football as clubs are being weened off local government money.

The fact that PBR are a privately owned club suggests they should be better equipped to handle market forces but they did after all move to Bandung. The days when Bandung Raya won the Liga Indonesia are way behind us and going head to head with the team in blue would need deeper pockets than anyone has thus far shown.

Pelita Jaya fans (honest) at Singaperbangsa Stadium, Karawang
The club do need to move to survive. Pelita Jaya's time in Karawang showed fans were interested but would they return to PBR after what happened before? Fans are quick  to show their displeasure here, witness Persebaya supporters boycotting their team.

Next season sees Persikad playing in Purwakarta; Persika playing in Karawang; Persita playing who knows where. If PBR do want to relocate then why not Cirebon. Massive potential fan base there. A name change may be in order to better connect with the local community but surely Cirebon is worth considering.

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