Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It looks like Sultan Ahmad Shah, the president of FAM does not wield enough power in the daily administration of the national body.

Read excerpts of the story that appeard in KOSMO today, December 29, on page 60 within the heading Malaysia bertemu Syria esok.

To make it simple to understand, please read the two contrasting statements which I have highlighted to emphasise as to why the President wields no powers as his instructions can be disregarded.

"Ditanya tentang bonus hampir mencecah R30,000 seorang buat pemain pemain skuad bawah 23 tahun (B-23) negara yang memenangi pingat emas Sukan SEA XXV di Laos baru-baru ini, XXXXX berkata ia akan diberikan minggu ini.

"Mungkin kita akan adakan satu majlis penyampaian bonus itu pada hujung minggu ini iaitu sebelum pemain-pemain berlepas ke Dubai pada Isnin," jelasnya.

However please read the SMS that was received from London, an instruction from HRH Sultan of Pahang.

Hye rakan2 media. Salam dr Lndon. Tuanku smpaikan ucapan Selmat Tahun Baru 2010 moga byk kjayaan akn d tempa lg. Tuanku ingin umum kan "winning bonus 4 U23 team in last final SEAGames's bnk RM10k setiap pemain. Bonus ini akn d byr esok, ari Isnin 28hb. So total ksluruhn brbyr ada lah hmpir RM30k 4 winning bonus ini pd setiap pemain. Tuanku titah akn sntiasa berikan prhatian yg penuh pd team ini. Mohon rakan2 media dpt hebahkan maklumat ini. Tq fm Col Azhar prg khas kpd KDYMM Prsdnt FAM

Monday, December 28, 2009


Tony Fernandes increases West Ham takeover speculation with trip to Upton Park

Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes attended West Ham United's Premier League victory over Portsmouth and later met manager Gianfranco Zola, which may fuel fresh hope that he could eventually get involved in the club.

Fernandes said last week that he did not want to bid for West Ham United at this stage, particularly because he had his "hands full setting up a Formula One team", although he also questioned how the club had been managed as a business. The 45 year-old is team principal for Lotus's return to Formula One in 2010.

Telegraph Sport revealed last month that Fernandes had held detailed discussions with West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt, but that the negotiations had not come to fruition.

Fernandes has now distanced himself from any takeover talk. This has been a source of great regret at West Ham as the innovative businessman, best-known for setting up budget airline Air Asia, is regarded by many as an exciting potential investor.

Fernandes, 45, said last week that he might be tempted to make a move at some point. However he did not indicate that it would be any time soon and his attendance at the Portsmouth game is not thought to be connected with any fresh talks. He is a committed West Ham supporter.

CB Holding, the company set up by the creditors of West Ham's former owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, appointed Rothschild bank to deal with potential investors and talks have taken place with a number of parties, including former Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan, although his bid of around £46 million falls short of their valuation.

CB Holding insists it is under no pressure to sell and has a three-year plan to retain ownership of West Ham if it does not find the right investor. However it is also aware that new funding would help create greater stability.

Fernandes, who employs 7,000 people, is a colourful character and a highly-successful businessman. He met with Zola, assistant Steve Clarke and technical director Gianluca Nani after the Portsmouth match and afterwards spoke of how excited he was and how pleased he was with the result.

He rose to prominence by turning Air Asia, a failing government-linked commercial carrier, into a successful budget airline which is a publicly-listed company and performing strongly. He founded the company just after September 11, 2001.

"There's a fine line between brilliance and stupidity," he said in an interview last month, and has described himself as "kindred spirit" to Sir Richard Branson. Indeed, the pair are very similar characters with an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit as well as a sharp business brain.

Fernandes, who was educated in England, is also renowned for his sharp marketing ideas and original thinking – it is not unknown for baggage handlers with his airline to rise to become pilots.

He ascribes his business acumen to his mother who could "sell ice to the Eskimos", while describing his father as a "communist doctor". West Ham will hope he may, some time in the future, be sold on them as a business idea.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

RM30,000 OPPOSED TO RM49,789

For winning the Gold Medal after a hiatus of 20 years, the Malaysian players received a total of RM30k each, including a RM10k bonus plus the match winning bonuses as practiced by FAM. But a word of caution though, not every player I believe will get RM30k in total as it depends if you are fielded or named in matches. So the final amount may vary.

Just read the Bernama story below, Vietnam paid out RM720,000 for the silver, so if we were to divide it equally among the 20 players, it works out to be RM36,000 each.

And the Vietnam women's team received RM995,780, working out to whopping RM49,789.00 each.

To be fair to FAM though, it was sponsors who topped up the winnings, so what say you Telekom Malaysia?

Received this SMS that was forwarded to me by Jaiho just moments ago:

Hye rakan2 media. Salam dr Lndon. Tuanku smpaikan ucapan Selmat Tahun Baru 2010 moga byk kjayaan akn d tempa lg. Tuanku ingin umum kan "winning bonus 4 U23 team in last final SEAGames's bnk RM10k setiap pemain. Bonus ini akn d byr esok, ari Isnin 28hb. So total ksluruhn brbyr ada lah hmpir RM30k 4 winning bonus ini pd setiap pemain. Tuanku titah akn sntiasa berikan prhatian yg penuh pd team ini. Mohon rakan2 media dpt hebahkan maklumat ini. Tq fm Col Azhar prg khas kpd KDYMM Prsdnt FAM

Bernama Story

Despite losing to Malaysia in the final at the Laos SEA Games last week, the Vietnamese Under-23 football team will still receive a handsome reward.

According to the Asian Football Federation's (AFF) website, the team would receive a reward of USD210,000 (about RM720,000) following their success in winning the silver medal at the biennial games.

They will receive USD100,000 (about RM342,900) from the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) while the balance of USD110,000 (about RM377,190) would come from their sponsor, Global Audio Visual Joint Stock Company.

The national women's team, who beat Thailand on penalties in the final classification match, received USD290,000 (about RM995,780).

Friday, December 25, 2009


To all the readers of this blog and Malaysian Hockey, Merry Xmas and have a good one

Thursday, December 24, 2009


The Asian Football Confederation will kick Singapore clubs out of future Asian Champions League competitions unless attendances dramatically increase in their domestic league.

Under the AFC’s new entry criteria, only teams from leagues with average attendances of over 5,000 per match will be allowed to participate in the Asia’s biggest club competition from 2012. Participating leagues must also have a system of promotion and relegation.

The 12-club S.League currently fulfils neither of these criteria.

But league chiefs say they are confident of boosting attendances to reach the target - even though they are getting average crowds below 2,000 this year.

"We've met the majority of the list of criteria set by AFC and we are confident of meeting most, if not all, of the latest list of criteria," a spokesman for the Football Association of Singapore told Reuters.

"Singapore football and the S.League is constantly improving on and off the pitch in terms of the business models, management, marketing and technical standards among other areas."

S.League champions Singapore Armed Forces must get through two qualifying rounds to reach the group stages of the ACL next year.

Last month, South Korea's Pohang Steelers beat Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad 2-1 in the AFC Champions League final in Tokyo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


West Ham United were revaluating prospective buyers last night after Tony Fernandes withdrew his interest. The Malaysian airline entrepreneur criticised the financial management of the club who have debts of about £80 million. “I worry about the club’s future, in a precarious situation and badly managed with a poor balance sheet,” he said. “It’s not tempting for a buyer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


On one hand the NSC says that their budget has been slashed but on the other hand they are holding yet another sports convention, this time at PWTC.

In October there was a convention in Genting Highlands and now at another leading centre.

Well there is still the Sime Darby Convention Centre and Puttajaya Convention Centre to hold another two conventions.

With the state of sports and the continous lament on lack of funds, wonder just how much is spent on these conventions and a comparitive study done as to how many candidates attend the same conventions time and again?

What have you to say Mr. Minister, holding a convention after convention, to my knowledge the fourth this year.

Monday, December 21, 2009


OXFORD, England (AP): Mercedes GP has signed a long-term agreement with Malaysia's national oil company Petronas to become the title sponsor of the Formula One team.

Financial details or the length of the deal were not disclosed in the announcement Monday.

The new Silver Arrows and Petronas branding will appear on the Mercedes car when it makes its track debut at Valencia on Feb. 1 for the first of the preseason tests.

Petronas also sponsors the Malaysian Grand Prix, which is schedule for April 4 at the Sepang International Circuit.

Mercedes-Benz has returned to F1 racing under its own name for the first time in 55 years by buying Brawn GP, which won the drivers' and constructors' championship last season.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


There hasn’t been much for Malaysian football fans to smile about over the past few years. The older followers remember the good old days when the team was respected around Asia.

They remember lording it over their regional rivals and appearing at events around the world. Qualification for the 1972 Olympic Games, ahead of the likes of South Korea and Japan, was a high point; a bronze medal two years later at the Asian Games wasn’t bad either.

The Tigers also qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Asian Cup.

So, the 1-0 win over Vietnam in the final of the SEA Games on Thursday marks the high point of Malaysian football in the past few years though it remains to be seen if it is the start of something or just a blip.

Much has been written about the decline of Malaysian football on Goal.com and elsewhere and now is not the time to go into that. Suffice to say that Malaysian as a whole has fallen behind a number of south-east Asian rivals.

The 2007 Asian Cup was a disaster and is qualification for the 2011 version and while clubs from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam all have recent experience of the Asian Champions League, Malaysia’s best have some way to go.

Yet despite all the infighting, the politics, the allegations of corruption, self-interest and the incompetence (such as banning all foreign players in the league) in Kuala Lumpur and among the state associations, there had been rumours that there were some decent young players hovering around and not getting mangled by the system.

The youngsters have been playing together for some time and coming into the completion has a better reputation than the senior team. Players such as Razak Zaquan, Safiq Rahim and Ahmad Shakir Ali all have bright futures though in Malaysia, nothing is ever certain.

A gold medal was certainly far from certain in the group stage. Malaysia had some decent results in the build-up to the competition and then thrashed Timor Leste 11-0 in the group opener but then came a chastening 3-1 defeat at the hands of an impressive Vietnam team.

The movement of the victors and incisive forward play suggested that it was not going to be Malaysian necks adorned by the gold medals when the final was played on December 17.

That defeat put pressure on K. Rajagobal's charges and it was how they reacted to this situation that was impressive. Knowing that they had to win both of their remaining games to make the semi-finals, the young tigers fought like, tigers. Cambodia were dispatched efficiently and then came a dramatic, late, come-from-behind 2-1 win over Thailand.

Momentum was now Malaysia’s. A 3-1 win over hosts Laos in the semi-final set-up a rematch with Vietnam. The odds were against Malaysia but football has a habit of surprising in these situations. A solid defensive performance followed and then a late own goal broke Vietnamese hearts and sent Malaysian fans wild with delight.

For those not familiar with south-east Asian football, it may be supposed that an Under-23 tournament in a regional meet is not a big deal. It is however taken very seriously.

Thousands of fans and hundreds of reporters followed Vietnam, Thailand’s exit is rife with ramifications, Indonesian fans are depressed at an early elimination and the whole Laos nation is delighted with their performance off the pitch, in staging a successful tournament, and on it, where they reached the semi-finals.

But not all is sweetness and light for the Malaysians. The young players may have shown promise with their skills but also disappointed hugely with their antics in the first match against Vietnam.

Angered by the decisions of South Korean referee Kim Jeong-hyeok, a pack of young Tigers chased and manhandled the official. Some Vietnamese newspapers even claimed that bottles were thrown.

The scenes were ugly – the senior ASEAN competition has its fair share of ‘episodes’ – and drew condemnation from almost everyone though coach K. Rajagobal sadly tried to defend his charges.

National Sports Council (NSC) Director-General Datuk Zolkples Embong was less impressed and was quoted by local newspapers as saying the scene was “a disgrace to the country.” He added, "To me, the referee was fair and indeed a number of decisions made by him favoured the Malaysian team." Zolkples who also blamed some members of the coaching staff for provoking the players.

In the delight over the victory, and it is good to see Malaysians feeling proud of their team, those scenes should not be forgotten.

If the players that so proudly celebrated the win in Vientiane continue to develop their skills and help restore Malaysia to the ranks of regional power then football fans in the nation will be thrilled.

If they can also help to improve standards of behaviour on the pitch in south-east Asia, then everyone will be a winner.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Credit goes to coaches K. Rajagobal, Tan Cheng Hoe and Fauzi Mukhlas and the other support staff for the GOLD medal triumph at the SEA Games.

There is no doubt that the present FAM administration will be trying to claim all the credit. But the truth is there for all to see as archives do not lie. Just read the stories written by creditable journalist in 2006 when the youngsters were nurtured, with FAM taking the bold step to let the government play a role, and the Ministry of Youth 7 Sports having faith in the ability of the youngsters.

An MOU was signed between FAM, represented by Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, the then General Secretary, Rosli Hussein, the then Asst General Secretary and NSC who were represented by Head of International Preparation Division Arrifin Ghani and Director General Dato. Dr. Ramlan Abdul Aziz.

The goverment via NSC agreed to fund the team to the tune of RM3 million per year with a target to win the gold medal in the 2009 Sea Games, though it must be said that some in FAM doubted this vision.

Several meetings were held between the then Sports Commissioner Tan Sri Elyas Omar, KSU Datuk Nik Mahmud, Dato Zolkples Embong who was at that time the Director of Administration of NSC, Arrifin, YB Ghazali (not Yang Berhormat) as well as Dato Ibrahim, Rosli, ER Subramaniam.

The end result was the MOU binding the government support for the team and after Dato Zolkples took over as DG of NSC he honoured the MOU after having held an eyeball to eyeball meeting with Khairy Jamaluddin in January 2008.

After that it was decided Harimau Muda as the team was to be called, play in the M-League and over the years it was due to something started in 2006, of which people like Dato Ibrahim, Rosli, Dato Ramlan, Dato Zolkples, Arrifin, Tan Sri Elyas and Datuk Nik who were key to this team.

And not forgetting Dato Seri Tony Fernandes, who through Kuhan Foo arranged the team's training at Carrington, the all famous Manchester United training ground.

Below are just two stories that lend credibility to this disclosure....

THE FA of Malaysia (FAM) has endorsed the Government's decision to adopt the National Under-20 squad and will work closely with the National
Sports Council (NSC) to ensure its success.

Towards this end, FAM has formed a Working Committee to streamline and establish clear demarcation of functions and responsibilities.

This, said FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, was necessary to ensure there are no disputes and Fifa guidelines are adhered

Although Tengku Abdullah did not elaborate, Fifa guidelines on non-interference by governments in national football associations are clearly spelt out.

"FAM welcomes the Government's decision to adopt the national Under-20 team.

"On our part, we will collaborate very closely with the NSC to ensure this team gets the best," said Tengku Abdullah after FAM's council meeting in Kuantan.

"A Working Committee has been formed to establish clear roles and functions so as to avoid disputes.

"At the same time, it will ensure that Fifa guidelines are followed.

"Both parties will work very closely in the team's preparations, be they tactical, technical, coaching, nutrition, friendly matches and tournaments, both local and overseas.

"This team - comprising mostly under 18 players - have great potential and represent our hope for the future," he added.

A gigantic effort, said Tengku Abdullah, was needed to restore the country's football pride and bring back the glory days.

As FAM cannot do it alone, the Government's decision to adopt the national team is timely and most welcome, he added.

Tengku Abdullah said over the years, FAM had invested some RM4 million annually on the various national teams' preparations and now part of its
financial burden will be reduced.

According to Tengku Abdullah, the players will come under the payroll of the National Sports Council as part of the AsiaComm programme.

"However, the players will be all be allowed to play for their respective States but the focus would be the team's preparations for the Asian Youth Cup finals in Kolkata for which Malaysia have qualified on merit."

FAM will be represented in the Working Committee by Tengku Abdullah,FAM general secretary Datuk Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad and Datuk Redzuan Sheikh Ahmad, while the NSC will represent the Government.

K. RAJAGOPAL'S hard work in building a team worthy of bringing pride back
to Malaysian soccer has paid dividends with the Sports Ministry (KBS) agreeing to finance the national Under-20 for the next four years.

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) agreed to hand over the
running of the team to KBS but will have some input on the way the team is run.

The Under-20 team will compete in the Asian Youth Tournament in Kolkatta, India,in October - the first time in 28 years that they will compete as qualifiers.

Malaysia played in the 2004 tournament as hosts and the last time they made
the cut was in Dhaka in 1978.

"We have finally put everything into place for us to take over the running of
the Under-20 team," said Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Said Othman.

"We will bankroll their trips, pay their wages and look after their well being. In return, the players will have to sign contracts with AsiaComm.

"This doesn't mean the door is closed to other players. We will keep an eye
on their progress and FAM can suggest new players they feel will
strengthen the team."

Rajagopal has lined up a series of playing tours for the team with the prestigious Copa B.H. de Futebol Junior tournament in Minas Gerais, Brazil from July 12-30 topping the list.

Admittance to the prestigious tournament, which is the top competition
for Under 20 teams in Brazil, is by invitation and four international sides will square off against more than 10 local teams. Among the Brazilian clubs who will participate are Corinthians, Sao Paulo, Flamengo, Fluminense, Santos and Gremio.

Trips to Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE), China and Slovakia are also
in the pipeline while South Korea and Japan are expected to be invited to Kuala Lumpur to provide the team invaluable test matches ahead of the
Kolkatta assignment.

There could even be the possibility of the Under-20 outfit competing alongside the senior team in the Merdeka Tournament sometime in August.

Among the players in the team are skipper Mohd Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak, Mohd Zaquan Adha Abdula Radzak (Negri Sembilan), Selangor's Safiq
Rahim, Kedah's Sabre Mat Abu and Kelantan goalkeeper Amini Ahmad Tabarani.

Meanwhile, FAM general secretary Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad said the players will be based in Kuala Lumpur but they will be allowed to turn
out for their home states in the Malaysian league.

"We have already spoken to the players about the situation and all of them have agreed to sign contracts with AsiaComm," he said.

"I know some of the older players may be able to earn more than the RM2,500 AsiaComm are playing and we are looking at ways to help them.

"However, since the majority of them are pre-university students with some even still in secondary school, there should not be a question about

"As nearly all of them are products of the Bukit Jalil Sports School,we also don't have to pay compensation to the State FAs."

He added the players will only be allowed to play for their home states if the matches do not clash with Rajagopal's plans.

"Obviously, if the boys are overseas or are preparing for a tournament,they would not be released," said Ibrahim.

KBS will also look into hiring more coaches for the team but Rajagopal's job as head coach looks secure.


Having known Deputy Sports Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim since 2001 when he was the Private Secretary to the then Sports Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein, I least expected him to ride the bandwagon following the good showing by the football team in the ongoing Sea Games in Laos.

The Razali that I had known was a person who truly practiced the 1 Malaysia concept way back from 2001 and for him to come out with statements such as the one below shows that after being deeply drawn into politics, one will tend to forget their responsibilities to the rest.

YB Datuk Razali, you hold an important post, as a Deputy Sports Minister, infact I rate you higher in terms of knowledge in sports since you served in the Ministry from 2001 to 2004, hence you should be quite sensitive to the needs of the Malaysian public.

Can I know why you never made such statements, or pleaded with fans to support the Malaysian hockey team when they were in the final of the World Cup Qualifiers in Invercargil, when only 13 minutes separated Malaysia from a place in the World Cup?

The final was shown live on Astro, so why was there no such support coming from you at that time given that a place in the World Cup was at stake and not a regional final?

Please take time off your busy schedule to give due recognition to other sports as well, esecially those who have achieved world status.

When Malaysia last entered the final in 2001, you were with Datuk Hisham praying that our 12 year wait would have ended on that night at the MBPJ Stadium. And now an additional 8 years later, it is you that will be in the VIP seat, and probably savour the moment of winning gold in Laos.

I will join you and the rest of Malaysia in wishing the players all the best, and to Chef De Mission Datuk Dr. Ramlan Abd Aziz and Head of NSC Elite Athletes Division Arrifin Ghani, this team is the very team you invested in by signing the MOU in 2006. It is you two that laid the foundation for K. Rajagobal to succeed.

Employers were urged to allow their workers to go home earlier to enable them to watch the live telecast of the Malaysia-Vietnam football final at the 25th SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos.

Youth and Sports Deputy Minister Datuk Razali Ibrahim said the match would be carried live by RTM at 6pm on Thursday.

“Perhaps the employers can allow their workers to go home earlier or provide television sets at the offices to enable them to watch the match,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Senator Fatimah Hamat in the Dewan Negara on Wednesday.

Razali said the national squad would definitely appreciate the support of fellow Malaysians, and such support could spur sports development in the country.

“It cannot be measured monetarily, but I’m sure employers’ support for football development will be deeply appreciated by our national squad,” he said.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Lotus F1 principal Tony Fernandes has risen to Richard Branson's challenge for the loser of the two Formula One team owners next season to serve as a stewardess on the winner's airline.

Fernandes, the founder and CEO of AirAsia, said last week that his new Malaysian-backed team had to finish ahead of Branson's Virgin Racing "otherwise I will retire and kill myself."

Branson replied at the presentation of his team on Tuesday by suggesting a less painful solution.

"He has an airline, we have an airline and if we beat him he can come and work on our airline as a Virgin stewardess," he said, adding that he would be "game to do it" if Virgin finished behind Lotus.

"Bring it on, the sexier the better," Fernandes told the Lotus team website (www.lotusf1racing.my) on Wednesday, beneath a mocked up photograph of Branson in an AirAsia outfit.

"It's quite fitting, don't you think? Our passengers will be delighted to be served by a Knight of the Realm," he added.

"But, knowing Richard, the real challenge will be to prevent him from asking our guests 'coffee, tea or me?' That would be scary."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Well the heading may be somewhat naughty, but that will be an appropriate way to read between the lines with regards to some quarters manner in glorifying the performance of Malaysian football, which has done well to make the final of the Sea Games, but still lack the quality to make an impact beyond the Under 23 stage.

Read the story below, and I believe the rest of the sporting fraternity would want to throw up after realising that they are just there to make up the numbers.

Even during the days of Dunhill, the figure of football sponsorship was RM30 to RM40 million and now those in Wisma FAM will be out to spend spend spend, without any imagination or responsibility towards tax payers money.

Fine we made the final of Sea Games, but so did we in 2001. But was there that amount of money made available to football.

And what about badminton, there was an attempt to form a trust board, with a capital injection of RM5 million sometime in 2005 but never saw the light of day because the government did not want to support sports at that time?

What about squash, a sport that has provided WORLD champions and not just making regional finals as in the case of football.

What about the pocket dynamite, Azizulhasni who has rocketed into world medals contentions over the past few year?

What about, what about...and the list can go on and on, but trust me there is money to be made hence this announcement.

Just imagine how many hospitals, low cost housing, scholarships and other meaningful acts can be achieved, rather then puring water down the drain..

The Malaysian Cabinet has agreed in principle to the setting up of a fund for football development at the grassroots level as mooted by the Youth and Sports Ministry, said its minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

He said the fund, which would be managed by a board of trustees with an initial capital outlay of about RM50mil to RM60mil, was expected to start operations early next year.

“It will be for grassroots development as the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) lacks funds for this purpose.

“However, the elite programme involving the national squad will still be under the FAM,” he told reporters here Tuesday.

Ahmad Shabery said the proposal by the ministry was raised at the Cabinet meeting last Friday and that follow-up action would be taken upon his return to Kuala Lumpur after the closing ceremony of the Laos SEA Games this Friday.

He added that the fund would initially concentrate on football before being extended to other sports.

On football being chosen as the first beneficiary of the fund, Ahmad Shabery it was to be a stimulus for the sport following Malaysia’s success in reaching the final after a 20-year wait at this Laos Games.

Malaysia will take on Vietnam in the final on Thursday.

Ahmad Shabery also said that he was optimistic that Malaysia would be able to the meet the minimum 30-gold target at this 25th edition of the SEA Games.

“If we get 35 gold (medals), it will be a bonus,” he said.

Up till noon Tuesday, Malaysia’s haul was 26 gold medals

Monday, December 14, 2009


Steve Darby prepares to leave Laos on Saturday after a

disastrous campaign in the SEA Games.

The final whistle from referee Pratap Singh of India signalled the end of Thailand's bid to win a ninth straight gold in men's football.

The 2-1 defeat against Malaysia that knocked out Thailand in the first round dealt a huge blow to the players and concerned parties.

Several Thai players were in tears and some of them laid down on the pitch like it was the end of the world.

What went wrong with the team? It seemed everything had gone wrong from the start.

When Thailand SEA Games coach Steve Darby announced his 20 players for the Vientiane tournament last month, many Thai journalists wondered whether some of them were good enough for the Games.

Darby, who is assistant to national coach Bryan Robson, defended the selection and said he did not hear complaints from anyone except journalists.

He also called on the media to support the team instead of criticising them.

Darby then had to work alongside Robson in the full national team's campaign in the Asian Cup qualifying round.

This should not have happened as Darby should have been concentrating on his SEA Games squad. The Asian Cup assignment ended on Nov 18 and Darby did not have much time to prepare his team for the SEA Games.

On the first day of training, several players seemed unfit, probably because they did not look after themselves while they were not in the training camp.

Thailand began their campaign in Vientiane with a 1-1 draw with Vietnam after the Thais conceded a late penalty. Although the penalty looked harsh, it proved to be a factor in Thailand's elimination.

"I bet Thailand will not win the title. The players are in bad shape," a Thai TV commentator told me after the Vietnam game.

Thailand then beat Cambodia 4-0 and hammered East Timor 9-0, and needed just a draw against Malaysia in the final Group A match to progress to the semi-finals.

Malaysia lost to Vietnam 3-1 and many fans thought Thailand's final group game would be just a formality.

But nothing is certain in football. Thailand took the lead against Malaysia early in the second half only for the Malaysians to strike back with two goals in the final nine minutes.

It was Thailand's first preliminary round exit since the 1973 edition when the event was still known as the Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEAP) Games.

Who is to blame for the disgraceful failure?

"I'm not blaming anybody. I take responsibility for this," said Darby.

I think two weeks were not enough for Thailand to prepare the team for the SEA Games and the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), particularly president Worawi Makudi, must take responsibility for this. As the FAT wanted Darby to help Robson in the Asian Cup qualifying round, they should have appointed another coach to oversee the SEA Games side so the person would have had more time to prepare the team.

If Darby continues to work in Thailand, he should listen to the media instead of thinking that they just try to criticise him.

The full national team's next mission is against Jordan in Bangkok in an Asian Cup qualifier on Jan 6 and concerned parties should learn from the SEA Games setback.

If Thailand fail to get a result against Jordan, their campaign for a ticket to the finals will be in jeopardy.

If we can't win the SEA Games and reach the Asian Cup finals, then we should not even think about the World Cup.

Worawi should also think about what he should do to take responsibility if Thailand fail to advance to the Asian Cup finals.


It was more than twelve years ago when Laos beat Malaysia 1-0 at the Jakarta SEA Games.

Soulivanh Xuenvilay will be hoping that the set of Under-23 youngsters can do the same when the two sides square up in the semi-finals of men's football at the Main Stadium of the National Sports Complex on Monday.

Soulivanh, who was the goalkeeper in 1997 and where he is now the general secretary of the Laos Football Federation, said that it was a tough match then and it will be just as tough now.

"The Malaysian team then had some good players like Khairulazman (Mohamad) and Zainal (Abidin Hassan), so the win was very significant," said Soulivanh, who was also the team captain at the time.

"It was a very difficult match and our defence worked very hard, especially after we scored the goal. "So it will be another battle when Laos play Malaysia in the semi-finals. The Laos team has been playing well and they are improving from game to game.

"But I hope that the players can keep their focus and not let pressure get to the them. It is a big game for sure but with the fans supporting the team we should be able to get the results we want. I can't say exactly of the outcome - what will be the score for Laos to win and Malaysia to lose."

The only goal of the game came off striker Keolakhone Channiphone in the 52nd minute when he let loose a dipping shot from some 30 metres out to beat Malaysia's Khairulazman.

In the meantime Somphou Phongsa, who was the head coach in 1997 and who is now the Vice-President of the Lao National Sports Committee, said that the win was all down to having the right tactic.

"We studied the Malaysian game well and from there, I employed two tactics - the first was to make sure that Malaysia do not make the crosses from the flanks while secondly, I put a stop to their key man (Sanbagamaran)," added Somphou.

"I told the players before the match to play with 110% and to treat it like a final which they did. And I knew that Keolakhone was capable of scoring from a distance as he has such power in his legs.

"When the goal came for Laos, we knew that we have won the game as we defended hard and there was no way, they could have scored against us that day."

Other than Soulivanh and Somphou, who was part of the Laos squad in 1997, current LFF president Phouvanh Vongsouthi was also there in Jakarta as the assistant team manager.


A “secretive Chinese consortium” is putting together a bid to buy English Premier League club Manchester United, according to UK press reports.

The Times online reports that “a bid is expected, although no approach, formal or otherwise, has been made to the Glazers”, the club’s current owners, who will “resist any offers” for United.

In a separate article in the News of the World, which along with The Times is owned by News International, the consortium was said to consist of six billionaire Far East businessmen who were poised to offer £1 billion for United.

The consortium would be happy to take a minority stake if the Glazers opt not to give up control of the club, the News of the World report said.

Despite speculation, the management of the club have constantly denied in the past months that United and its owners, the American Glazer family, face financial difficulties.


Italian Jarno Trulli and Finn Heikki Kovalainen will drive for Lotus in the 2010 Formula One.

Former Toyota and Renault driver Trulli had been strongly linked to the team, while Kovalainen was freed up for a move after being replaced at McLaren by world champion Jenson Button. Malaysian Fairuz Fauzi was named as the team's third driver.

"(Trulli) will bring us a lot of experience to develop the team, and Heikki is a young driver but has phenomenal experience so I think we have two fantastic drivers with Fairuz as well," team principal Tony Fernandes told reporters at a ceremony in Malaysia's parliament.

"It's a wonderful mix of experience, youth and passion and shows our seriousness to be a world championship contender."

Trulli, 35, won one Grand Prix for Renault in 2004, a record matched by 28-year-old Kovalainen with his single win for McLaren in Hungary last year.

AirAsia airline entrepreneur Fernandes said he had set an initial goal of being "the best among the new teams" in 2010.

Lotus are one of four new teams entering the sport next season in an expanded 26 car starting grid.

"We are not setting any big targets, we want to at least be the best of the new teams, but I think it shows our seriousness today by announcing two really world class drivers," Fernandes added.

The Lotus F1 team, which was set up in September, is supported by the Malaysian government as part of Prime Minister Najib Razak's "1Malaysia" initiative to promote racial unity among Malaysians.

The government has said that it would not invest in the team except through national car maker Proton, which owns Lotus.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Lightning struck at the National Stadium in Vientiane yesterday when hot favourites Thailand were eliminated from the men's football tournament.

Needing just a draw against Malaysia in their final Group A game, the Thais suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat.

The shocking loss ended Thailand's bid to win the title for a record ninth straight time. The Kingdom also failed to get past the first round for the first time since 1973 when the biennial event was known as the Southeast Asian Peninsular (SEA) Games.

In four matches in Vientiane, Thailand failed to beat a credible side. In their other three games, they drew 1-1 with Vietnam and defeat minnows Cambodia and East Timor.

Against Malaysia, the Thais were okay in the first half. But after they took the lead early in the second half, they seemingly out of sorts and conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes.

"It is unbelievable. Thailand are out," the Laos TV commentator said at the end of the match. "Thailand were leading and then made incredible mistakes."

The commentator also criticised a Thai player for kicking a Malaysian player after he resorted to time-wasting tactics.

"Is this a football match or a boxing bout?" the commentator said.

It was a pity that Thailand's top striker Teerasil Dangda was unfit. He suffered an injury and was substituted in Thailand's opening game against Vietnam, and did not play in the other three games.

Teerasil reportedly wanted to start against Vietnam because his family and friends were in Vientiane to watch him play.

Teerasil's understudy Sompong Soleb had been on fire with six goals. Unfortunately, he could not find the net in meaningful games against Vietnam and Malaysia, and all his goals were against East Timor and Cambodia.

It was a huge blow for Steve Darby, coach of Thailand's SEA Games (Under-23) side, who knows a lot about Malaysia.

Before yesterday's match, he said he groomed Malaysia striker Saarani Ahmad Fakri and midfielder Rahim Safiq. As their mentor, Darby should be proud. As Thailand's coach, Darby should suffer.

Both Fakri and Safiq played well against Thailand. Worse was that Fakri scored the winner in injury time.

Thailand's head coach Bryan Robson may feel relieved that he was not assigned to take charge of the Under-23 side. Darby said after the Malaysia defeat that he was to blame and would shoulder responsibility.

With yesterday's setback, Thailand are no longer the number one in Southeast Asia. They also failed to win the previous two Asean Championships (for full national teams).

The blow was the end of Thailand's golden era in the SEA Games but it is not the end of the world. A number of players in the squad have good technique and what they lacked in Vientiane might be the right tactics and physical strength.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) must make a decision whether to keep Darby as coach of the Under-23 team or allow him to be only assistant coach of the full national team. The Under-23 side will have a much tougher task at next year's Asian Games.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Indonesian Journalist Dies On Duty At SEA Games

VIENTIANE: Lukmanul Hakim died on Friday while reporting for Republika Daily during the Southeast Asian Games taking place in Laos.

Lukman, 40, was found collapsed on top of his papers when writing for his paper at an internet kiosk about 5 p.m. local time.

His body was rushed to Mittaphap hospital but the hospital officials said he had died on arrival.

Born in Semarang, Central Java on Sept. 2 1969, Lukman had complained about his heart problem before departing to Laos.

Indonesian State Minister for Youth and Sports Affairs Andi Alfian Mallarangeng paid his respects at the hospital along with the Chairwoman of the National Sports Council Rita Subowo and the Indonesian contingent chief Alex Nurdin.

"I would like to express my deepest condolences. He was part of our cause in this SEA Games and I hope what he did can move Indonesian contingent members to fight their best for the country," Andi said. - JP

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Failed in All Matters

Once again FAM is in the news for all the wrong reasons. And you will not be surprised that they do not have to make much effort to be ridiculed for the decisions they make.

Year in and year out there has been theories on how FAM will bend backward to save a particular affiliate and the decision made by the FAM Exco yesterday further cements that it no longer is a theory but reality.

By leaving Harimau Muda in the Premier League, FAM has done justice to a state that did not deserve to gain promotion, so why bother having a M-League in the first place we wonder.

Who cares about development, and if the NSC has guts, then they should withdraw funding for the Harimau Muda team as FAM cannot keep their word.

Right from the start of the so-called clean-up by FAM, there was no doubt that it will merely be a hog wash and the only thing true to form in FAM is its ability to further inflict damage on its reputation by making decisions that even confound their strongest of supporters.

FAM has banned its women's team from participating internationally when they could not even handle an issue affecting the team where players were threatened with action by a senior FAM official when they went crying to FAM after four players were physically abused by a team official.

The joke is on you FAM as only a week ago your Competitions Committee said that they will back the state affiliate who may well be hauled up by FIFA for none payment of salaries to a foreign player.

If the Players Status Committee which made the decision to punish the affiliate by awarding dues to the foreign player, has any dignity, then the members should resign.

A sub-committee over-ruling the decision of another sub-committee and preapring to take FIFA on, wow, someguts they have when they could not even stick to their own stand.

Monday, December 07, 2009


Tiger Woods could well make his second appearance on Malaysian soil next November following the introduction of the Asia Pacific Golf Classic.

The Mines Resort and Golf Club, which hosted the 1999 World Cup that Tiger played in, will play host to the event that was launched by Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak.

It will rank number 15 in the world in terms of prize money and The Mines has inked a seven year deal with the PGA.

The top 25 players of the PGA Tour's final FedExCup standings will qualify to play in the event and based on the 2009 rankings, Malaysia could well see the likes of Phil Mickleson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Sean O'Hair, Zach Johnson, Padraig Harrington, Heath Slocum, Kenny Perry, Cot Verplank, Jason Dufner, Nick Watney, Geoff Ogilvy, Dustin Johnson, Steve Marino, Ernie Els, Lucas Glover, Retief Goosen, David Toms, Marc Leishman, Brian Gay and Jerry Kelly to name a few.

Other players set to grace the inaugural 40 player tournament, will be the top 10 of the Asian Tour Order of Merit with five sponsors exemptions. One Malaysian is however assured of a spot in the field.

And that is not the only top draw as the event will offer USD6 million in prize money, with the champion walking away with a cool USD1 million.

The PGA Tour and Asian Tour are the organisors of the event in partnership with Carbon Worldwide and PGA Promotions of Malaysia.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


After the appointment of Dato Chan Tien Ghee to the club’s board last week, Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale is now desperate to secure the involvement of ‘TG’s” associate Vincent Tan.

And with a personal wealth estimated at US$1.3bn there is little surprise Ridsdale is keen to bring on board a man who first made his fortune as a McDonald’s franchisee.

Tan – or Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun to give him his full title – had long been rumoured to be the man behind the man after Ridsdale first went public with his courting of Chan back in August.

The City supremo insisted then he had hoped his dealings with Chan could open up doors to both direct and indirect investment – and he has now gone public on his hopes entrepreneur Tan will add Cardiff City to his quite incredible portfolio.

Linked through Chan’s Central Malaysian Properties, Tan’s name was first publicly mentioned by Ridsdale during Monday night’s Q&A session with supporters.

And a brief glance at Tan’s business dealings suggest it would signal an end to the cash-flow issues that have been spoken about in recent times.

The head and chair of colossal conglomerate The Berjaya Group, 52-year-old Tan was last year placed by influential financial publishers Forbes as the ninth richest man in Malaysia with a net worth of US$1.3bn.

Unsurprising given the long list of interests with The Berjaya Group reported to include as many as seven public and 200 private companies ranging from gambling, telecommunications, media, textiles, tourism, financial services, property, industry and consumer marketing – combined sales of his network of enterprises reportedly reaching US$4bn.

But it is in the fast-food business that first gave Tan his break after he invested in the first McDonald’s franchise in Malaysia.

Having quit schooling at 17, he landed his first restaurant at 29. The golden arches now pop up in 185 different spots in Malaysia.

Starbucks is the other big US business that Tan has his hands on in his homeland through franchise rights and he has not been slow to invest wherever he feels there is an opening for enterprise.

“I move like a cheetah. Others, they move like elephants,” Tan said in a recent interview with Forbes.

And it seems he has not stopped moving, hinting at his willingness to look overseas with these comments from the same interview: “It’s a challenge. I want to learn how to do business and to be successful in different countries. It’s all about a combination of money and other factors that you have to organise into a force that creates value.”

Cardiff seem reliant on full investment from the Malaysians, whether from Tan directly or if TG is able to provide further funds following his apparent initial investment last week.

To put it in context, Ridsdale stated at the fans’ forum on Monday that talks with potential American investors are off.

And, after giving the first details of the proposed new agreement with Langston, it is clear Cardiff need injection of cash to meet the £10m 12-month repayment deadline set out.

As reported in yesterday’s Echo, Ridsdale insists there is a verbal agreement in place with Langston to restructure the existing debt by starting with monthly payments in January and the stadium naming rights valued at £5m rather than the £9m quoted figure under the previous agreement.

Ridsdale admitted there is a clause to pay £1m a year until 2016 should the club miss their £10m target in 2010.

Ridsdale also admitted at the meeting he hopes the debts – including the unpaid tax bill that brought about a High Court hearing last week – can be managed by Malaysian investment.

But the deal with Langston – hoped to be signed in the immediate future – is believed to be crucial in ensuring the club looks a much more of an attractive proposition, especially given their new stadium asset.

Ridsdale stated at the meetings the Malaysians are currently going through the club’s books.

It hasn’t been made clear in public whether they were aware of the High Court date with the Revenue until after it came to light via Media Wales.

Still Ridsdale painted a positive picture of the current standing with both Chan and Tan at the meeting with the fans’ at the capital’s municipal club.

“TG has put in an amount of money with another amount due this week,” he maintained.

“I cannot say how much that is, but I will say it is in the millions. I have also met with Vincent Tan.

“They have asked for all the numbers regarding the club and we have given them those.

“They will be considered with due diligence.

“They have indicated they are interested in investing in everything from a minority 10% stake in the club to a majority if they like what they see.

“British football is very attractive to people in the Far East.”

Monday, November 30, 2009


Someone must be held responsible for the aborted departure to Laos for the SEA Games today.

If clearance from the other end had not been received, then why on earth were the team sent to the airbase in the first place.

Let's not blame Wisma Putra or someone on the other end. Why were commercial flights not used and why was there a need for the team to charter a flight?

The Chef De Mission must seek a report on this debacle and OCM probably will say that football as a category B sport is responsible for it's own arrangements.

Malaysian football has been grounded before it could even lift off and for this national shame heads must roll.

Over to you main stream media as accountability is something we ought to demand in sports as our politicians are well known to " close one eye ".


Following the decision by Haji Ahamad Mohamad to resign as the President of Johor Football Association, Haji Rozan Saat (Vice President 1) and Haji Lukman Abu Bakar (Hon. Secretary) have also vacated their positions.

And Executive Secretary Wan Nizam is expected to follow suit after the completion of the JFA annual general meeting.

The Johor State Government is said to be looking at candidates to fill up these vacant positions, clear violation of FIFA statutes.

But will anyone bother, not likely as the umbrella body of football in this country is guilty of receiving payments from individuals to allow one of its affiliates to play in next seasons M-League.

More on this later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Cardiff City have announced Malaysian businessman Datuk Chan Tien Ghee has joined the club's board and that he has already started to invest his money.

It comes on the day that the Bluebirds appeared before London's High Court to face a winding-up order brought by Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs.

But the case was put off for 70 days to allow the club to pay the undisclosed debt.

Tien Ghee told Cardiff's official website: "I am very proud and privileged to be joining the board of Cardiff City at this time.

"Now that the infrastructure is in place, I believe that together with the existing board I can help to provide Cardiff City with the additional resources it requires to achieve the ambition of attaining Premier League football."

Cardiff City Chairman Peter Ridsdale hopes the debt will be paid next month after revealing they have reached an "outline agreement" - and the Bluebirds chairman awaits the lawyers go-ahead.

And he says Wednesday's announcement of Tien Ghee's "TG" investment will put the club in a good position for the future.

"It's very, very good news," said Ridsdale. "We fully expect that the club will see an opportunity for investment of funds, not only on a personal level but also through some of his contacts in the Far East.

"We have already received some money and more money is on its way from the banks in the Far East.

"We are in a period when we expect whatever we have received to be enhanced in the future through various options which will include looking at sponsorship opportunities, but will also include direct investment."

And Ridsdale has refused to rule out the possibility of Tien Ghee taking full control of the club in the future.

"I don't think anybody would be putting in the sort of funds we are expecting over the next few weeks unless they see it as a good investment opportunity," he added.

"If it turns out to be as good as we both believe it will be then who knows where it may lead.

"The club is in good hands today and it will continue to be in good hands in the future."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


CARLTON'S lucrative sponsorship deal with Tourism Malaysia is yet to be renewed for next season.

In arguably the competition's most lucrative sponsorship arrangement, the Blues received $1.6 million last season from the contract, which expired late last month.

The club is set to begin talks with other businesses.

It is believed changes in the Malaysian government ministry are behind the reluctance of the southeast Asian country to re-commit to sponsoring a Melbourne-based football club.

Tourism Malaysia shared major sponsorship of Carlton this year with carmaker Hyundai. The two entities had their logos switched each week on the front and back of the Carlton guernsey.

Research by Tourism Malaysia found the sponsorship of Carlton had helped increase by up to 30 per cent the number of visitors to Malaysia by Victorians and Tasmanians.

The Tourism Malaysia deal required Carlton to commit to a number of promotional events, including sending captain Chris Judd and senior players, coach Brett Ratten, president Stephen Kernahan, chief executive Greg Swann and sales and sponsorship director Anthony Barham to Penang last January.

Former president Dick Pratt also attended, with the touring party travelling on his private jet.


And while on the subject of football, another stunner for most people was to find out that New Zealand has also qualified for the World Cup. Yes, that country where there are more sheep than humans and whose sporting fortunes have always centred on rugby and cricket. It will represent the Oceania zone after beating Bahrain from Asia in a playoff last week.

Now, if New Zealand can qualify, perhaps Malaysia needs to rethink its strategies in football. Maybe it should apply to leave Asia (Asian Football Confederation) where the competition is a lot tougher and join Oceania instead. Perhaps only then could the country join the ranks of World Cup qualifiers.

But wait a minute. The way football is being run in this country, even to be grouped with Antarctica would be a tough bet for Malaysia. In Oceania, there is also Fiji which is ranked higher in the Fifa listing (133rd as against Malaysia's 152nd). And are we sure Malaysia, in its present standard, can beat Vanuatu?

Despite a long tradition of football, Malaysia is far short of its potential as a football-loving nation and things are not what they appear to be, as there is a disconnect between the frenzy over foreign leagues and the national team.

The solution is plain and simple -- the Football Association of Malaysia must change its leadership. The president must go and the excuse that he has an unfinished agenda is unacceptable. For the glory of the country, Malaysians must demand a key performance indicator (KPI) accountability from FAM.

Enough is enough. And so what if that's the monster in me speaking out.


Monday, November 23, 2009


"West Ham: Crisis Club" would have felt more appropriate, such has been the constant, extraordinary drama that has stretched from the Carlos Tévez affair to the financial meltdown of the club's previous owner, Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson.

Off the field, fortunes are improving. That may appear counter-intuitive. After all, why would CB Holdings, the company formed by creditors which runs West Ham, have appointed Rothschild and Standard Bank to seek out new investors?

And it was not so long ago that Napoli, aware of Zola's disenchantment, tried to tempt him, technical director Gianluca Nani and chief executive Scott Duxbury to leave Upton Park.

That process of sifting through potential investors – and would-be buyers – is almost complete and the strong likelihood is that the banks will be stood down without a deal being done.

Talks have taken place with at least three parties: Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, former Birmingham City co-owners David Sullivan and David Gold and a consortium fronted by a company called the Intermarket Group.

Fernandes, the founder of Air Asia and a West Ham fan, has been the closest to taking a stake and was even introduced to Zola. Indeed, at one stage it appeared likely he would acquire a 51 per cent stake in the club.

West Ham chairman Andrew Bernhardt even flew to Kuala Lumpur to try to seal the deal but an agreement on price could not be reached. Fernandes remains interested and has been back in contact with Bernhardt but, as yet, nothing has been settled.

The other two parties are being treated with greater scepticism and there is a general sense at West Ham, and with Straumur, the troubled Icelandic bank that is CB Holdings' biggest shareholder, that the investors believe there is a bargain to be had and that the situation at the club is far worse than is being let on.

They believe Bernhardt, who was appointed by Straumur and who has stuck to his valuation, is, in effect, bluffing.

There are reasons to believe he is not. West Ham would like investment. It would mean, for example, that instead of having to pay £3.5 million a year over the next five years to Sheffield United because of the Tévez affair, they could renegotiate a one-off settlement on better terms.

Investment would mean that rather than having to rely on funds generated by sales, which has been a struggle between West Ham and Straumur, and income to acquire new players, they could recruit more freely.

But Straumur's own fortunes have improved, and that is now helping West Ham. If they had needed to sell by now, they would have done so.

The bank is restructuring itself in Iceland and there is real hope that it may soon come out of a moratorium – a suspension of payment to creditors – to reflect its improved status. Negotiations with creditors are continuing. Another extension beyond the December deadline should be agreed.

At the same time, CB Holdings has renegotiated the terms of a loan facility at West Ham which has placed it on a more sound financial footing.

As part of that agreement, Straumur put in more than £5 million of new investment – a prerequisite demanded by the banks who conducted the refinancing to show goodwill – while the debts now stand at £38 million and are wholly manageable with a turnover of around £90 million.

Furthermore, the club has dramatically cut its wage bill, which had grown under previous chairman Eggert Magnusson, from £62 million to £38 million a year.

Of more immediate concern to supporters is the forthcoming January transfer window. Again, there have been predictions of a fire-sale but players such as Carlton Cole, Valon Behrami and Robert Green will not be sold.

The future of captain Matthew Upson, who was wanted by Liverpool and Fiorentina last summer, is less certain because of his age and his insistence on not signing a new contract. Still, Upson should stay until the summer and will then try to find Champions League football.

Magnusson had promised that as well but, through his spending and Gudmundsson's financial collapse, almost ruined the club.