With internal deadlock still hampering efforts to bring order to the country’s football scene, the Indonesian Super League plans to start its new season in November.
Doing so would go against the terms of the memorandum of understanding that laid out the path toward reconciliation and possibly rekindle the row that has left Indonesian football divided for two years.
ISL organizer PT Liga Indonesia, the Indonesian Football Savior Committee (KPSI) and the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) signed the MoU in Kuala Lumpur in June, agreeing to bring the country’s dueling leagues under PSSI control and establish a joint committee to form one top-flight competition.
But PTLI chief executive and joint committee member Joko Driyono said hopes for a breakthrough were slim.
“The committee has a mandate to establish one top-tier professional league. It hasn’t made good progress so far with all difficulties. I think the best we can do is to make a profile of new league,” Joko said on Thursday.
“After analyzing the situation, we concluded that it’s not possible to implement a new league for the 2012-2013 season.”
Once the official top flight, the ISL became a breakaway league when Djohar Arifin Husin was elected PSSI chairman. In its place, the Indonesian Premier League was elevated and received recognition from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.
The MoU allows the ISL to “operate autonomously” until the joint committee established a single top-tier league. Even if the committee manages to sketch out the new competition, Joko said many issues needed to be addressed.
“First, the hierarchy of the competition from the top tier to amateur level. Then, we have to talk about club licensing criteria. We need to set the standard, whether we want to make it high or low,” he said. “The third issue is league governance and who will organize the league. Those issues have to be settled in the committee. We can’t start the league while those haven’t been settled yet. It will create new problems.”
Joko suggested the ISL and IPL run side-by-side during the transition period, a plan that likely would not pass muster with FIFA and the AFC.
It could also leave confusion as to which clubs will represent Indonesia in the Asian Champions League and AFC Cup. While Sriwijaya FC won the most recent ISL title, the PSSI recently appointed IPL champion Semen Padang to represent Indonesia in the Champions League.
“We have to make it clear that playing in regional competitions is a reward for club that have good performance. The access should be granted to those with competency,” Joko said. “I would claim that ISL is much better than IPL, but I think the committee should address the issue. It can’t be decided by Djohar or [KPSI chairman] La Nyalla Mattalitti.”
Widjajanto, chief executive of IPL organizer Liga Prima Indonesia Sportindo, was unmoved by the news of PTLI’s plan.
“We’ll wait for direction from the committee. We still have to think positively,” he said. “I think it’s just matter of communication in the committee as we have yet to have a meeting for long time.”
Regardless of if or when the new ISL season begins, the issue of unpaid wages continues to hover Indonesian football.
Clubs are struggling to make good on the salaries they offered their players, even after the season has finished. Joko said the issue was one of PTLI’s main concerns.
“But we don’t want to be cocky Jakartans who tell villagers how to manage their money. We have spoken with clubs about the problem,” he said. “Our policy is the same. All unpaid wages and other obligations must be settled before new season kicks off.
“There are solutions offered, including salary and budget caps. But I think a financial fair play plan is more reasonable. Clubs need to be more aware of their revenues and expenditures. There’s no short-term solution for this.”