THE Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) received a severe blow when Ernst and Young pulled out of the Premier League, but the Malaysian Hockey Federation are unfazed and have big plans for the tournament this year.
A meeting with the stake-holders will be held today where the MHF will outline their plans and seek approval from the clubs.
The five club representatives who will be in the meeting today are from Sapura, Maybank, Nur Insafi, Tenaga Na sional and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).
Ernst and Young were also invited, because they have yet to officially write in their pull-out to the MHF, but they did not respond.
UniKL is new outfit who will join the Premier League as their affiliation with Kuala Lumpur HA has been sorted out. The new team is expected to utilise players form the Project 2013 squad.
The MHF plan to change the Premier League format in a big way, and instead if playing in Kuala Lumpur, the five or six teams will be travelling to at least six states to play three matches each weekend.
“The plan is to take hockey to the states and allow the fans from all over the country to enjoy the Premier League. States were selected based on the availability of floodlights as the matches will be played at night to attract the maximum number of fans,” said an official who declined to be named as the plan has yet to be put forward to the clubs.
Among the states which have been identified are Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
There are also plans to hold a coaching clinic for youth before the matches and ESPN have also been roped in to provide one live match at least per week.
“The coaching clinics will benefit the youth in states, while the live matches will give sponsors Tenaga Nasional added value for sponsoring the League.”
A total of 44 matches, including two round quarter-finals and two round semi-finals have been planned for the Premier League.
Division One champions UiTM and runners-up Airod Armed Forces will join in during the quarter-finals stage.
And it the plan takes off, next year, MHF hope to invite four club champions from Asia to join in from the quarters onwards.
But the survival of plan is subject to the approval of clubs today, then the Competitions Committee on Sunday and finally the MHF Council.
Also, if Malaysia win gold medal in the New Zealand Qualifier from Nov 7-15, then the Premier League, which is supposed to start on Dec 4, might be shelved.