19 June 2011

League stoppage inevitable

Jason Thomas

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
THE FOOTBALL Federation of Brunei Darussalam (FFBD) admit their hands are tied.

As much as it would like to finish the local football season, logistics make it next to impossible.

The ex-governing body for the sport in Brunei has been asked by the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam (NFABD) to put a halt to all football competitions it endorses, a ruling which hasn't gone down well with the 19 teams competing in the DST Group Brunei Premier League (BPL).

There are 48 BPL games remaining and NFABD which is internationally recognised has said Fifa has given it until July 27 to end the season or face possible sanctions.

"Logistically speaking, if we could we would continue," FFBD secretary-general Sheikh Noordin Mohammad told The Brunei Times yesterday.

"In the initial fixture we were confident we could be able to finish the league and FA Cup by the end of July.

"But because of venue problems the closure of the Balapan Track & Field at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex and weather, not to mention the Youth Sports Festival, we had to revamp the fixtures and set the FA Cup for after Hari Raya.

"If you take into account the Youth Sports Festival (which runs from June 11-19) we can only resume the league on June 20, next Monday.

"That gives us only 37 days until July 27, and we have to take into account His Majesty's birthday and the fact that we cannot play on Thursday nights.

"We were asked to cram everything (from June 20-July 27) but that was virtually impossible.

"That's why we had no alternative but to cancel the league. We had a managers' meeting with the majority of the BPL teams last Sunday and I explained our predicament which they all understand," he added.

More shocking than the news of the league's premature end is Sheikh Noordin's revelation that contrary to public opinion, the two associations have yet to sit down and iron out an amicable solution as NFABD had earlier promised.

"In my personal view, I think we could have finished the league games," he said.

"We had thought up of several options to complete the league and I am confident that with these options we could have finished the season, but NFABD did not see fit to contact us.

"We were waiting for them to talk to us ... But there is no point talking about the options now.

"Officially or unofficially, we have had no correspondence with NFABD, and I just want to express sadness and regret that it has come to this," he added, stressing he was not speaking on behalf of FFBD.

Sadness and regret is something that the nine BPL I teams that have gone through half the season and the 10 BPL II teams which have only played five games should be all too familiar with now.

They have dozens of players who are disappointed that this season's campaign could not be finished and that they have nothing to show for all their hard work and dedication.

When asked whether the DST Group BPL I trophy would be awarded to leaders the Royal Brunei Armed Forces Sports Council (MS ABDB), who are six points ahead of AM Gunners FC, Sheikh Noordin insisted it was not up to FFBD to decide.

"We have not decided formally what to do with the trophies (DST Group BPL I, II and FA Cup). We can't commit ourselves to anything yet and we will make an announcement once we have made a decision," he said.

"We do have a contractual obligation with DST Group and we hope and trust that they they will be able to understand our predicament in the same way the clubs have.

"We have yet to have formal discussions with DST Group and I am only able to do so tomorrow (today) morning.

"That's why in our statement released earlier we only decided in principle not to proceed with the remaining DST Group Brunei League and DST Group Brunei FA Cup matches, so we have to see what the sponsors say.

"The money that the sponsors have given us to run the league is one of the issues we have to discuss with them.

"Everything we do is subject to the consent of DST Group, who have been helping Brunei football since 2003," he added.

He said that one of the teams during last Sunday's meeting asked whether they could be compensated since they have made preparations for the whole season, and the secretary-general assured The Brunei Times that this was under consideration.

The 23-match FA Cup was another question that was brought up in the meeting but since NFABD's press release stated it only allowed accommodation for the league, the cup tournament looks to be a no-go.The Brunei Times

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