Abdus Salam Murshedy, the professionalism league committee chairman in the last 12 years, gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune
The addition of two corporate clubs, Bashundhara Kings and Saif Sporting Club, has brought more light and competitiveness to the top-tier competitions in the last four years. To add to that, Abahani Limited’s historic achievement in the AFC Cup took the country’s club football to a new height. The increase in number of Bangladesh Premier League venues meanwhile, widened the game across the country. Yet, at the same time, majority of the BPL clubs couldn’t upgrade their standard and lacked professionalism, something that needs to be sorted out in the coming years. Abdus Salam Murshedy, the professionalism league committee chairman in the last 12 years, talked about the limitations of the top-flight clubs in meeting the required standard in an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune. Murshedy shared his thoughts on Saturday's much-anticipated BFF Election where he will be contesting for the senior vice president’s post for the fourth consecutive time under Kazi Salahuddin-led Sammilito Parishard, or Combined Panel, alongside only competitor Sheikh Mohammad Aslam, a star former footballer himself like Murshedy.
Tell us briefly about the panel...
It’s a full panel. It’s a combination of current and former footballers, and organizers from clubs, districts and divisional football organizations. I think this is the most balanced panel right now.
Do you have anything new in the horizon if elected again?
Manifestos covered everything but if the voters keep faith in me, I will try to touch something which I couldn’t do before, or wasn’t possible. I want to organize the Pioneer (U-15) League more regularly, and select the talented players for long-term camp. I will also make at least three competitions mandatory in all districts, including league, U-17 and a senior tournament. We will give them technical support, sports gear and of course, manage the sponsorship.
Most top-flight clubs still lack professionalism, will it change anytime soon?
Actual professionalism means you must have a stadium, permanent members or fans, and more professionalism in payment of players. The clubs couldn’t reach professionalism the way they were supposed to, but it is improving. Bashundhara Kings, Saif Sporting Club, Abahani Limited are doing well, also Chittagong Abahani Ltd and Mohammedan Sporting Club Ltd are working on it. You can’t bring professionalism to each and every single one of the 12 or 13 clubs. I think there will be more professionalism in four-five years.
Only a few top clubs follow the AFC Club licensing criteria of maintaining at least two age-level teams, while the rest fall short...
Clubs will get benefits if they have youth teams because they can bring those players into main team without spending money. It is the clubs who produce players. If it costs them, let’s say Tk20 lakhs, to scout and arrange camp for youth team, if they produce at least five players from there they could save around Tk3 crores. I think the clubs should take this into consideration and change their mindset.
We will keep at least four national age-group teams in residential camp with full technical support as well as two female age-group teams. Football will automatically improve.
The financial condition and infrastructure of the clubs are also concerns...
The clubs still survive with donation. They don’t have earnings or their own stadium. Two-three clubs are building stadium. Bashundhara’s stadium works are under process. When they start hosting matches, they will get ticket money and support from the fans. The situation of English Premier League was like us 100 years ago and the banks supported them. We will talk to the high-ups of government about it and get the clubs into a structure by providing loans so that they have own stadium. (If elected) We will work on the areas to make sure their source of earnings because if they do well it will benefit the country’s football.