Dollah Salleh to return at end of year after MSL ban cut to five months

Pahang coach Dollah Salleh will be able to return to the touchlines in December after having his 18-month ban for insulting match officials reduced to just five months.

The news was confirmed by Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) president TMJ, who is also the Crown Prince of Johor.

"Dollah will be suspended for only five months, and his fine for the offence will also not amount to RM30,000," TMJ told a chat session earlier this week.

"He is also still able to train the team, but will not be allowed to sit in the technical area. That is how we have decided to lessen his punishment."

Dec. 5 is the new date for Dollah's return, which means he will resume full coaching duties ahead of next year's domestic campaign.

The former national boss was given his year-and-a-half ban by FAM after criticising the referee for awarding a last-minute penalty in the 2-1 Malaysia Super League (MSL) defeat to Felda United on July 1.

The former striker went on to suggest that the official may have "arranged" the match, which resulted in the hefty punishment.

Dollah would have been able to return next April after serving a nine-month ban, with the remaining nine months suspended, subject to good behaviour.

His punishment was deemed unfair by some of his peers, including the Football Coaches Association of Malaysia president B. Satiananthan.

Satianathan, who is also Felda United head coach, had told ESPN FC the association planned to help Dollah appeal the ban, because it was "too harsh".

The decision to reduce the ban was made by a neutral body consisting of a group of lawyers, according to TMJ.

Dollah was penalised under the draconian Article 88, which has been the bane of many coaches in the past.

Previously, only the FAM president and secretary-general were allowed to make comments about the MSL and the national team.

After many coaches, including Satia and Kelantan advisor Tan Sri Annuar Musa fell foul of Article 88, the law was amended to allow more freedom of speech.

The extent of how much coaches are allowed to express their opinion, however, still remains unclear.