| KUALA LUMPUR (19 July 2008) – Perak head coach Steve Darby said that Perak’s financial woes could see the Malaysian side withdraw from September’s AFC Cup quarter-finals.
Perak qualified for this season’s tournament by finishing second to Kedah in both the Malaysian Super Cup and Malaysia Cup last year.
They set up a last-eight meeting with Lebanese side Safa after finishing second in their AFC Cup group behind Singapore Armed Forces with a record of four wins, one draw and one loss.
But their on-field success has been undermined by the drying up of funds since a change of state government in March – with players and staff not having been paid in full for four months.
“The budget for the present season was drawn up with income based on a Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) grant, gate receipts and funding from the Perak state government,” Darby explained.
“We kept to the budget, which was in fact reduced from previous years by over one million ringgit (approx. USD 310,000) through cuts in salary and travel costs.
“The Perak FA were operating on one of the smallest budgets in the Super League, 50% smaller than some of then and smaller than at least four teams in the Premier League, but Perak still qualified for the AFC Cup quarter-finals and were continuously in the top few places in the league.
“But the general election occurred and after this the funding from the state government ceased.
“Our reserves from gate receipts were drained and at the same time huge bills from as far back as 1998 emerged which nobody in the current administration knew about.
“These were for things like taxes, EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund) contributions and stadium rent which amounted to over two million ringgit (USD 616,000).
“So the successful attempt at running the team as a business failed due to the unexpected cessation of the largest revenue stream and the sudden emergence of unknown bills.”
According to Darby, players and staff have not received their full salaries since March 30 and the Perak FA have written formally to the state government and FAM for assistance as well as actively seeking sponsorship for the team.
“An FAM official said it’s a Perak FA problem, not theirs, but I strongly disagree as we are representing Malaysia in the AFC Cup and if we cannot compete in the quarter-finals of the AFC Cup, it brings shame to the whole country,” said the Englishman.
“I have estimated the trip to Lebanon and it will cost us over USD20,000 but we do not have that money.
“The AFC subsidy is excellent and adequate but that only comes after the games. We do not have the funds up front.
”Even now we are travelling to away games in Malaysia overnight and are not staying in hotels at all.”