Malaysian football league system

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Association football is a national sport in Malaysia, where the first modern set of rules for the code were established in 1921, which were a major influence on the development of the modern Laws of the Game. The sport of football in the country of Malaysia is run by the Football Association of Malaysia. The association administers the national football team as well as the national league.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

The Malaysian football league system, also known as the football pyramid, is a series of interconnected leagues for men's association football clubs in Malaysia. The system has a hierarchical format with promotion and relegation between leagues at different levels, allowing even the smallest club the hypothetical possibility of ultimately rising to the very top of the system. The exact number of clubs varies from year to year as clubs join and leave leagues or fold altogether, but an estimated average of 10 clubs per division implies that hundreds of teams are members of a league in the Malaysian men's football league system.


Football arrived in Malaysia (Malaya at that time) with the British. The locals soon picked up the game, and before long it was the country's leading sport. Towards the end of the 19th century, football was one of the central pillars of most sports clubs in Malaya. But it was not structured. Even when the Selangor Amateur Football League took shape in 1905 – which ensured proper administration and organisation – the competition was confined only to clubs in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1933, football of Malaysia was founded as Football Association of Malaysia which managed the local football scene at that time.[8] By 1954, FAM joined FIFA as a member in AFC.

The system consists of a pyramid of leagues, bound together by the principle of promotion and relegation. A certain number of the most successful clubs in each league can rise to a higher league, whilst those that finish at the bottom of their league can find themselves sinking down a level. In addition to sporting performance, promotion is usually contingent on meeting criteria set by the higher league, especially concerning appropriate facilities and finances.

In theory it is possible for a lowly local amateur club to rise to the pinnacle of the Malaysian game and become champions of the Liga Super. As the main leagues in Malaysia consist of three tiers, it is possible for a new team to become champions in just three years if they perform well within the pyramid.

The top three levels contain one division each and are nationwide in scope. Below this, the levels have progressively more parallel leagues, which each cover progressively smaller geographic areas. Many leagues have more than one division. At the lower levels the existence of leagues becomes intermittent. There are also leagues in various parts of the country, which are not officially part of the system as they do not have formal agreements with the football associations and are run by independent organisers. These are mostly held in forms of carnival style, where the league's duration is just a couple of days of months. Clubs from state leagues may, if they feel they meet the appropriate standard of play and have suitable facilities, apply to join a league which does form part of the system.

The top two levels of the Malaysian football league system are operated by the Malaysia Football League, which consists of Liga Super and Liga Premier. All clubs in these two leagues are fully professional.[9][10][11][12]

The third and fourth levels of the Malaysian football league system are operated by the Amateur Football League, a subsidiaries Malaysia Football League, which consists of the Malaysia M3 League and Malaysia M4 League. All clubs in this competition are amateur clubs.

The fourth levels of the Malaysian football league system consist of leagues that run in parallel. The leagues which are managed by Amateur Football League (AFL) in collaboration with state Football Association and independent football league organizer. It is an amateur level league consisting of community clubs, social clubs, professional clubs, and company clubs from all over the respective states in Malaysia which compete in their own regional state league. It has multiple divisions within it. They also consist of 10 recognized social leagues by AFL all around Malaysia.

Current structure[edit]

Liga Super is the highest level in the Malaysia football league system. The second level is Liga Premier. Liga Super and Liga Premier are professional league and governed and operated by Malaysia Football League.

The third level is Malaysia M3 League. Malaysia M3 League consists of 14 clubs. Malaysia M3 League is amateur league competition. The champion from 5 FA State League and 10 Social League clubs in season 2018 are promoted to newly established third-tier league called Malaysia M3 League. However 1 club withdrawn due to unknown reason. The Liga M3 is governed and operated by Amateur Football League (AFL), however, the Liga M4 operated by independence body and state football association. AFL only governed the Liga M4 league competition. AFL is a subsidiary company of Malaysia Football League.

The table below shows the 2019 season structure of the system. For each division, its official name, sponsorship name (which differs from its historic name) and number of clubs is given. At levels 1–4, each division promotes to the division(s) that lie directly above it and relegates to the division(s) that lie directly below it. Below that level, individual league articles detail promotion and relegation arrangements.



starting from 2019


Malaysia Super League (M1)
12 clubs


Malaysia Premier League (M2)
12 clubs


Malaysia M3 League (M3)
14 clubs


Malaysia M4 League (M4)
232 clubs

The Malaysia M4 League are combination of state FA leagues, social league and community league in Malaysia. They are administered and operated by the states football association and independent operator. The level immediately above is the Malaysia M3 League. The divisions include are:

States &
Federal Territories
Operated by Level 4
Level 5
Level 6
Level 7
Flag of Perlis.svg Perlis Perlis FA N/A
Flag of Kedah.svg Kedah Kedah FA N/A
Flag of Penang (Malaysia).svg Penang Penang FA N/A
Flag of Perak.svg Perak Perak FA N/A
Flag of Selangor.svg Selangor Selangor FA FAS Super League FAS Premier League I FAS Premier League II FAS Premier League III
Munro Sports Shah Alam League N/A
Subang Football League N/A
Sunarize Soccer League Sunarize Soccer League (D2) N/A
Klang Valley League N/A
South Selangor League N/A
Selangor Social Premier League N/A
PBMM FA Shah Sport League N/A
Flag of the Federal Territories of Malaysia.svg Federal Territories Kuala Lumpur FA KL Super League KL League Division One KL League Division Two N/A
Putrajaya N/A
Labuan N/A
DD Sport & Referee DD Social League N/A
Liga Komuniti Puchong N/A
Flag of Negeri Sembilan.svg Negeri Sembilan Negeri Sembilan FA PBNS President Cup League N/A
Flag of Malacca.svg Melaka Melaka FA Melaka League Division One Melaka League Division Two Melaka League Division Three N/A
Flag of Johor.svg Johor Johor FA Johor Darul Ta’zim League N/A
Flag of Pahang.svg Pahang Pahang FA Sultan Pahang League N/A
Flag of Terengganu.svg Terengganu Terengganu FA N/A
TAL Super League (D1) TAL Premier League (D2) N/A
Flag of Kelantan.svg Kelantan Kelantan FA N/A
Flag of Sabah.svg Sabah Sabah FA N/A
Flag of Sarawak.svg Sarawak FA Sarawak N/A







Malaysia President Cup (U21)
24 clubs

Malaysia Youth Cup (U19)
24 clubs

MSSM Cup (U18)
15 State clubs

KPM-FAM Youth Cup (U17)
18 school clubs

MSSM Cup (U15)
15 State clubs

MOE Ministry Cup (U14)
16 school clubs

MSSM Cup (U12)
15 State clubs


Promotion and relegation rules for the top four levels[edit]

  1. Liga Super (level 1, 12 clubs): The bottom two clubs are relegated.
  2. Liga Premier (level 2, 12 clubs): The top two automatically promote. The bottom two are relegated.
  3. Liga M3 (level 3, 14 clubs): The top two teams are automatically promoted, however it subjects if the clubs meet the club regulation licensing. Currently there is no relegation information in this league. Sometimes, clubs might withdraw for financial reason and might be given permission to play in Liga M4.
  4. Liga M4 (level 4, various clubs each, running in parallel): The champions in each division might be promoted to M3 League if they want to play at the next level as long as they fulfill the requirements in terms of club preparation, account balance and other rules set by MFL.

Cup eligibility[edit]

Being members of a league at a particular level also affects eligibility for Cup, or single-elimination, competitions.

Former structure[edit]

Before the current known system, the Malaysian football league system underwent multiple iteration changes since its introduction in 1979 and officially as the country's men's football league competition in 1982 with the introduction of league trophy for the winners.

Amateur league system (1982–1988)[edit]

A football league competition involving the representative sides of the state football associations was first held in Malaysia in 1979. When it began, it was intended primarily as a qualifying tournament for the final knock-out stages of the Piala Malaysia. It was not until 1982 that a league trophy was introduced to recognise the winners of the preliminary stage as the league champions. Over the years, the league competition has gained important stature in its own right.

Below is the Malaysian amateur football league system in from 1982 to 1988.



1 Liga Malaysia
2 14 States League

Semi-Pro league system (1989–1993)[edit]

In early days, the Malaysian football league system consisted of an amateur league before the changes in 1989, when it was known as the Liga Semi-Pro (MSPFL) from 1989 to 1993.[13]

Initially the only teams allowed to participate in the league were the state FA's sides, teams representing the Armed Forces and the Police, and teams representing the neighbouring countries of Singapore and Brunei (though the Football Association of Singapore pulled out of the Malaysian League after the 1994 season following a dispute with the Football Association of Malaysia over gate receipts, and has not been involved since).

The inaugural season of MSPFL consisted of nine teams in Division 1 and eight teams in Division 2. The Malaysian Police joined Division 2 in 1990. Games were played on a home and away basis for about four months roughly between the end of April or early May and the end of August or early September. For the first season three points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss, but in subsequent seasons this was changed to a 2, 1, 0 basis. At the end of the League competition the top three placed teams in both divisions received prize money while two were relegated/promoted and a playoff was staged between the eighth placed team in Division 1 and the third placed team in Division 2. The top six teams in Division 1 and top two in Division 2 also proceeded to the quarter-finals of the Piala Malaysia.

In 1992, FAM created another amateur league for local clubs in Malaysia to compete, which is called the Liga Nasional[14] The league was managed by FAM outside entity, Super Club Sdn. Bhd. Some of the clubs which compete in the league are Hong Chin, Muar FA, PKNK from Kedah, DBKL, PKNS, BSN, LPN, BBMB, Proton, PPC and PKENJ. Unfortunately, the league only ran for a couple of seasons before it folded. Some of the clubs were then evolved and joined the main league, such as PKENJ, which became JCorp and now as JDT.

In 1989 to 1993, the Liga Semi-Pro was divided into two levels:



1 Liga Semi-Pro Divisyen 1
2 Liga Semi-Pro Divisyen 2
3 14 States League

Professional football league system (1994–1997)[edit]

Between 1994 and 1997, there was no second level league as the top two leagues were combined. 1994 was when Malaysian football league turned professional. The MSPFL essentially became the Liga Perdana, a National League was added, and a second cup competition, Piala FA, joined the existing Piala Malaysia.

With the formation of professional football league in 1994, Piala FAM was held again as yearly competition after being absent from 1986 to 1990 and 1992 to 1993.[15][16]

The newly formed professional football league was almost in peril when a bribing and corruption scandal was discovered between 1994 and 1995. 21 players and coaches was sacked, 58 players were suspended and 126 players were questioned over corruption by Malaysian authorities.[17][18]



1 Liga Perdana
2 14 States League

In 1997, promotion from Piala FAM to the professional M-League was introduced for the first time. Johor FC and NS Chempaka FC were the first two sides to be promoted that year.[19]

Malaysian league system (1998–2003)[edit]

In 1998 to 2003, the football league in Malaysia was divided again into two levels:



1 Liga Perdana 1 (LP1)
2 Liga Perdana 2 (LP2)
3 14 States League

In recent years, top Malaysian club teams have also been admitted to the league competition. The restriction for state FA's team from being relegated was lifted in order to promote a healthy competition in the league.

System revamp (2004)[edit]

The league was revamped to be a fully professional league in 2004 following the decision by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) to privatise the league, but it was not fully privatised. As a result, MSL Sendirian Berhad (or MSL Proprietary Limited) was created to oversee the marketing aspects of the league top-tier league at that time.

In 2005, Piala FAM became a third-tier competition and the format of the competition was changed to include a two-group league followed by the traditional knockout format.[20]

Between 2004 and 2006, the professional football league in Malaysia was divided into two levels and two groups:

Below is the Malaysian football league system revamp in 2004.



1 Liga Super (MSL)
8 clubs
2 Liga Premier Group A (MPL Group A)
8 clubs
Liga Premier Group B (MPL Group B)
8 clubs
3 Piala FAM (from 2005)
4 14 States League

At the end of the season, the top team from each group of the Liga Premier was promoted to the Liga Super. The teams which finished at the bottom of each group were relegated to the Liga FAM. The two group champions also faced off to determine the Liga Premier Championship.

System restructure (2007–2018)[edit]

From 2007 until now, the professional football league in Malaysia was only divided into two levels when Liga Premier was combined into one level: Below is the Malaysian football league system in 2007. For the 2006-07 season, the Liga Premier was reorganised into a single league of 11 teams instead of being a competition involving two separate groups of teams.



1 Liga Super (MSL)
11 clubs
2 Liga Premier (MPL)
11 clubs
3 Liga FAM
4 14 States League

In 2008, FAM has changed the Piala FAM to the league format which served as a third-tier league in the Malaysian football league system and become as Liga FAM starting from 2009 season.[21][22]

Below is the Malaysian football league system in 2009.



1 Liga Super (MSL)
11 clubs
2 Liga Premier (MPL)
11 clubs
3 Liga FAM
4 14 States Leagues

Below is the Malaysian football league system in 2013 - 2018.



1 Liga Super (MSL)
12 clubs
2 Liga Premier (MPL)
12 clubs
3 Liga FAM
14 clubs
4 Malaysia M5 League (M5)
194 clubs - 4 states Football League and 10 Social League

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Duerden (7 July 2012). "Malaysia: A new hope". Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Malaysia hopes to relive football glory days by training 10,000 teenagers". Bernama. The Edge. 21 October 2013. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  3. ^ Ooi Kin Fai (4 October 2013). "The biggest change in Malaysian football". Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  4. ^ Simon Ingka Crown; Jeremy Veno (30 July 2010). "Football development: A tough job". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  5. ^ Jeeva Arulampalam (21 October 2009). "Malaysian soccer clubs need right structures to attract funding". Business Times. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  6. ^ Shebby Singh (15 November 2013). "A much-needed intervention for the good of Malaysian football". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  7. ^ T. Avineshwaran (21 September 2013). "Future of our football". The Star. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Association Information [Football Association of Malaysia]". FIFA. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  9. ^ "About Football Malaysia". Football Malaysia LLP. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  10. ^ Ooi Kin Fai (7 May 2015). "Malaysian football going for the German way". Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Packed Malaysian fixtures will help build stronger national team - FMLLP". 4 August 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Malaysian football needs to embrace professionalism". Fox Sports Asia. 2 January 2017. Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  13. ^ Peter Wilson; Benson Sim (28 July 2006). "The demand for Semi-Pro League football in Malaysia 1989–91: a panel data approach". Applied Economics. 27: 131–138. doi:10.1080/00036849500000015.
  14. ^ "Amanat Tengku Abdullah" (in Malay). Liga Bolasepak Rakyat. 27 May 2016. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  15. ^ Atsushi Fujioka; Erik Garin; Mikael Jönsson; Hans Schöggl (11 January 2018). "FA of Malaysia Cup". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Malaysia 1994". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 7 January 2001. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  17. ^ Azizul Fahmi (26 December 2008). "Pembunuh bola sepak negara" (in Malay). Kosmo!. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  18. ^ B. Suresh Ram (16 December 2015). "What happened to Malaysian football?". New Straits Times. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  19. ^ Mikael Jönsson (19 June 2003). "Malaysia 1997". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  20. ^ Hamdan Saaid (1 July 2006). "Malaysia 2005". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  21. ^ Hamdan Saaid (18 July 2013). "Malaysia 2007/08". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  22. ^ Shamim Imran; Hamdan Saaid (18 July 2013). "Malaysia 2009". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 28 February 2018.