BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Selangor secretary-general Johan Kamal Hamidon is irked by the delay faced by the club in its plan to absorb PKNS FC into its set-up ahead of the 2020 season.
The Red Giants board earlier last month voted to proceed with its plan to take over the other Super League side based in the state of Selangor, and the plan has been approved by Malaysian competitions organiser Malaysian Football League (MFL) pending PKNS FC's agreement. The move would see Selangor taking over PKNS FC's first team including its players and coaches as its development team, and more importantly its place in the Malaysian football pyramid (If the merger goes through, PKNS FC are likely to be rebranded as Selangor II, and will have to compete in the Premier League as per MFL's ruling on development teams).
The Selangor state Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Amirudin Shari, whose political post places him as the chairman of state-owned corporation State Development Corporation of Selangor (PKNS) which in turn owns PKNS FC, meanwhile has repeatedly instructed the club to accept the merger.
Amirudin Shari (sitting, fourth from left). Photo by Zulhilmi Zainal
But when met by Goal at the club's training centre last Friday, Johan revealed that Selangor have yet to receive PKNS' agreement.
"At the moment Selangor have done what we need to do and we're still waiting for PKNS FC to reply to MFL on the matter of the merger. On our side and the state government's, we are clear in our direction and the discussions have concluded.
"The main company, PKNS is okay with the plan because they'll be saving money. They've been spending a lot on their first team, which is made up of highly-paid players," he said bluntly.
Although he insisted that there is ample time for the takeover to happen ahead of the 2020 season, Johan remarked that the delay is threatening his future plans for Selangor, including the appointment of a technical director.
PKNS FC have so far only posted cryptic social media posts and an article rebutting fans' supposed misconception towards the club, and have declined to comment on on the matter when contacted by Goal last week.
"I don't want to say too much about this, but a lot of things hinge around the reserve team (the plan to place Selangor II in the Premier League).
"I've also been trying to communicate with PKNS FC the plan to jointly appoint a technical director, with the appointed director tasked with hiring the coaches for the development and youth teams, except for the first team head coach B. Satiananthan who is doing a good job. I've got five, six candidates for the technical director post, but we can't make the decision until we sit down and discuss it with PKNS FC. We've been trying to make it happen for six weeks already.
"Admittedly, for this (the merger) to happen, there would be casualties, but it would be at both ends. The current Selangor board is very objective and I don't have any favourite players or staff members. If they're good they should be here. If the TD (technical director) thinks all PKNS FC coaches are better than their Selangor counterparts, then the latter will have to make way. I don't have any sentiments towards anyone; what's objectively important is to create the best platform and environment for young Selangor players.
"The TD would play an important role in selecting the players from both clubs. If I retain a youth coach from PKNS FC, he's likely to bring on PKNS FC youth players and vice versa. We want to eliminate biasness; the coach can make his recommendations but the TD will double check them.
"We want to decide on the appointment together with PKNS FC people because we want to avoid being accused of preferring our own guy. We want to do it the right way," he explained
The former student association representative also attempted to debunk the history of PKNS FC as a professional club, one of the reasons cited by the merger's opponents.
"A lot of fans talk about PKNS FC's history, referencing legends such as R. Arumugam (former Selangor, PKNS FC and Malaysia's legendary goalkeeper)," corrects Johan. "But these players turned out for PKNS FC in the 1970's and 80's when they were not a professional club. They were then an amateur club playing in the Selangor state league and FAM Cup. They only turned professional in 2004 in the Premier League, and until now they've not won any major trophies, which is not something that should be bragged or boasted about. This is the biggest misconception and it's based on sentiments, which is frustrating because it has been propagated out there.
PKNS FC in 2014. Photo by FA Singapore
"And another popular sentiment is that Selangor are shutting them down. But we're not doing this, PKNS FC can still exist [after the takeover] as an amateur or semi-professional club that develops players in the state league. They are also doing a good job at the academy level, but at the professional stage, it's hard to say that they're relevant."
Johan also reiterated the desire for the 33-time Malaysia Cup champions to push for the merger, insisting that the plan is something the club wants as opposed to something that is demanded by Amirudin.
"Selangor have been pushing for the merger and not the Menteri Besar, there's nothing to hide there. He has been unfairly criticised and slandered for this, but it's incorrect. It's the best move for football in the state, I have never been as clear about anything else.
"Everything hinges on [the merger with] PKNS FC and you can't blame us for being a bit gung-ho about it. It's a gateway for a lot of things to start as well as our plans for next season. We're super excited of what's to come for Selangor. Just give us two to three more years, and the merger will bear fruit," he promised.
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