There was no Labour Day ”gift” from the Prime Minister for the M-League when he announced that there is no early return for football matches in the country just yet while badminton has been given the nod.

Speaking during his Labour Day speech to the nation and broadcast live he said contact sports like football, rugby, wrestling, boxing, and basketball will have to wait longer before they can resume after getting clearance from the Ministry of Health and strictly follow the guidelines.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, however, had some good news for other sports like badminton and tennis, golf, joggers, and those who are indulged in running. They can resume their activities from Monday but must follow rules that have been set to check COVID-19 – social distancing must be strictly followed and there must not be more than 10 people in a group.

However, the Malaysian Football League (MFL) has already drawn up counter plans for the M-League with changes in the format of the competition.

According to the Chief Executive Officers of MFL Datuk Abdul Ghani Hassan, the league will resume from Sept 1 but it will only be a one-round league – which means only 11 matches will be played instead of 22 played on a home and away basis. The remaining matches in the first round will be completed by the end of September and the earlier fixtures will be retained.

Only four matches had been played by the teams before the M-League was suspended on March 16 – two days before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.

Ghani also revealed that the Malaysia Cup format will also be changed and will be played on a knockout basis instead of the old format of group matches. The quarter-finals and semi-final will also not see home and away matches. The Malaysia Cup, the oldest football tournament in Asia is slotted to begin in October.

The FA Cup and the Challenge Cup will not be held this year so as to finish the season in time and give the national team to complete their World Cup /Asia Cup qualifiers which have also be postponed due to COVID-19. RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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