Pahang miss deadline for 2018 AFC Cup, face harsh sanctions from FAM
Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have confirmed that Pahang will not be participating in the 2018 AFC Cup after missing the deadline to accept their invitation.
Pahang were handed the opportunity to enter the tournament due to the fact that FA Cup winners Kedah did not have a license to participate.
The 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) runners up rejected the idea, insisting they would prefer to focus on the domestic league, while also expressing concerns over potential costs.
Their decision has been criticised by the FAM who believe it damages both the reputation of Malaysian football and their relationship with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Pahang were given time to reconsider, and the FAM set a Nov. 30 deadline for them to have a change of heart.
But the club have not been moved to make an about-turn, despite the threat of sanctions.
"2017 Super League runners-up Pahang will officially not be representing Malaysia in the 2018 AFC Cup," a statement on the FAM website said.
"It is because the deadline given was 30 November 2017 but the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) did not receive any response from Pahang Football Association (PBNP) to participate in it."
The FAM must now decide if it has the authority to impose sanctions for Pahang's refusal to accept their invitation.
They will also have to seek advice from the AFC regarding whether or not another Malaysian team can enter the tournament. AFC guidelines suggest that if a club rejects the opportunity to participate, another club from the same country cannot be asked to take their place.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK