Liga 1 Indonesia giants Persipura Jayapura have announced on Wednesday night that they will suspend all of their activities, with the club’s players being dismissed until further notice. The move was taken due to the Mutiara Hitam‘s precarious financial position, as main sponsor Bank Papua have refused to pay out approximately 5 billion Rupiahs that Persipura needed to prepare themselves for the resumption of the 2020-21 season.
The news came as a massive blow for Indonesian football as Persipura were to embark on their first continental adventure since 2015, with an AFC Cup play-off round appearance awaiting Persipura in May of 2021. Persipura were appointed as one of Indonesia’s two representatives in the 2021 AFC Cup by virtue of their 3rd placed finish in the 2019 Liga 1 season.
“As of today, Wednesday January 6th 2016, we at Persipura have decided to suspend all activities,” said Persipura chairman Benhur Tomi Mano as quoted from detikSport, “Our financial situation is getting more and more difficult to pay out the wages of our players, coaches, and officials. This is due to Bank Papua deciding not to pay out the remaining 5 billion Rupiahs out of the 10 billion Rupiahs that we’ve agreed upon for the current season.”
Bank Papua, the main financial institution of the province of Papua where Persipura are based, is the Mutiara Hitam‘s main sponsor, alongside mining giants Freeport Indonesia and energy drink brand Kuku Bima. Both Bank Papua and Persipura have agreed upon a 10 billion Rupiah-contract that would finance the team for the entirety of the 2020 season, however the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent effect on Indonesian football have caused Bank Papua to walk out on their deal with Persipura, refusing to pay out the remaining 5 million Rupiahs from their deal. With the resumption of the Liga 1 season still uncertain, Bank Papua have decided that honoring their contract with Persipura would be too much of a risk for them, much to the dismay of the Eastern Indonesian giants.
“This is very unfortunate as we will be making our return to Asian competitions in 2021,” said Benhur, “But since March 2020 our finances have been quite tight. We only have the money provided to us by Freeport and Kuku Bima, and the club’s management had to shell out from their own pockets to ensure the welfare of the players, coaches, and officials. So even with the league still suspended, we were able to fulfill our contractual obligations to our players, coaches, and officials.”
“But in the end we cannot force ourselves to go on if it means that we have to leave our players, coaches, and officials go unpaid. We were shocked by Bank Papua’s decision to not pay out the remaining money that they’ve promised us, as we’ve heard from their general commissioner that they will still give us some money to at least continue our players’ development even though the league is still suspended. But they’ve decided against giving us that money,” continued Benhur, who is also the current mayor of Jayapura.
Persipura felt that Bank Papua had purposely toyed with them, as Persipura had repeatedly reminded the bank about the deal that they had only for the club’s pleas to fall into deaf ears, before Bank Papua suddenly dropped the bombshell that they will no longer be sponsoring them. Persipura felt that they could find other sponsorships should Bank Papua decided to end their cooperation with the Mutiara Hitam earlier.
Persipura’s financial crisis meant that they could potentially pull out from the 2021 AFC Cup, leaving 2019 Liga 1 champions Bali United as Indonesia’s sole representative in the competition. However, should Persipura are able to find a new investor to finance the team as soon as possible before May, they might still be able to participate in Asia’s secondary club competition.
Persipura were not the only Liga 1 team to suspend all activities, as earlier at the end of December Madura United had done the same thing. The Laskar Sapeh Kerrab dismissed their players and suspended their activities on December 28th as the uncertainty surrounding the resumption of the Indonesian football season continues.