The idea of a league independent of the FA of Malaysia, on top of community-based clubs, was first discussed in 1999.
This article appeared on The Malay Mail February 20, 2005, following FAM's decision to appoint PwC in proposing a restructure. The outcome?
SIX years ago, a group of officials from the FA of Malaysia (FAM) descended on the land of the Rising Sun to conduct a study on the progress made by Japan.
The six-man group were led by the then FAM assistant secretary, Datuk Yap Nyim Keong.
Forming the team were the then head of academies, Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Mohd Akil, the ex-director-general of education, Datuk Shukor Abdullah, former FAM director of coaching Ronald Smith, the then FAM council member Datuk Dell Akbar Khan and former national Under-19 coach B. Sathianathan.
This writer was among the privileged few to be given an insight into how the Japanese had made the quantum leap, when in fact they had kicked off their development programme based on the Malaysian model following a visit to Kuala Lumpur in 1980.
Today, none of the individuals who formed the study group remain in FAM.
Unfortunately, the report they submitted to the FAM top brass was never put into practice.
The conclusion from the tour was a change in the FAM set-up and how things were conducted were imperative if we were to move with the times.
One of them was that FAM must be independent of the State FAs. But it requires the FAM constitution to be amended to enable the body to shift their focus towards developing the sport.
This will also allow FAM to be run by technical people and corporate figures with the principal office-bearers as figureheads.
The idea of a new league structure run by a separate entity was also mooted along the lines of the J-League which is the body that administers the league in Japan.
The J-League, introduced in 1993, requires each club to set down deep roots throughout their home community, with corporate sponsors providing crucial back-up with their administrative skills.
The J-League's board of directors and auditors are elected by the general meeting.
The executive committee consists of the chairman, directors with specific responsibilities and one representative selected from each club.
The board of directors are the J-League's highest authority in deciding the aims and policies of the league.
The executive committee puts those aims and policies into effect as well as deliberating and deciding on matters entrusted to it by the board of directors.
This is where good corporate governance comes in. It provides a system of checks and balances, so that directors are always looking over the shoulders of management.
The national body, which is the Japanese FA (JFA), are thus solely responsible for developing the game at grassroots level through a pyramid structure without being bogged down by affairs of the league.
The idea was not to adopt the Japanese model in totality but some of the proposals put forward were worth a try.
Unfortunately, what concerns FAM at this moment is the administrative set-up, when in fact it should be last of the agenda.
Granted there are some weaknesses in the daily administration and maybe a revamp is timely.
So let us see what globally-renowned consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) may have in store for FAM.
According to their website, PwC serve their clients primarily in four areas corporate accountability, risk management, structuring and mergers and acquisitions and performance and process improvement.
Also, their extensive studies into the future of the workplace are designed to help their clients create value for their business through people.
So basically, they will look into the human resource aspects of the body, with health, welfare and retirement benefits for the staff, and the possible addition of a few departments to help FAM establish a more professional outlook.
It's no rocket science really because what FAM need are a team of professionals, who will be held accountable with a set of objectives to be fulfilled within the stipulated period.
For instance if a marketing man were to be employed to market the Super League, he would be given a target to strive for, let us say RM1 million in two years.
If he fails, he will be given the boot.
Because of the occupational hazard, he or she will enjoy a lucrative salary.
An association like FAM, who continue to rely on council members to decide on the policies will struggle to meet the demands of today's game.
Can PwC help FAM on that score?
We hope Shah Alam Antlers and Petaling Jaya Rangers be the agents of change in an environment which, unfortunately, encourages mediocrity and protects self-serving decision-makers.