A financial crisis hit clubs in 2007 after it was revealed that the APBD couldn’t legally be used for funding football clubs. The financial viability of professional clubs became increasingly precarious around 2007. It was during this time that a discourse on the use of the Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Daerah for football clubs emerged. The APBD budget is garnered from taxes, and was being used to keep football clubs financially viable: “money from the hardwork of tax payers was used to buy foreign players, pay players’ and coaches’ salaries and whatever else” (24th January 2007, Kompas, p.30). To make matters worse, clubs were not held accountable for their use of funds. 32 of the 36 teams in the top division relied upon money from the APBD. Clubs are characterised by their degree of precarity, rather than stability.
Fan groups often ‘work’ for clubs to provide them with ongoing financial stability. The supporters of PSS Sleman promoted the slogan of ‘No ticket, no game’ in order to counter the practice of fans expecting to attend games for free.
Clubs in the Indonesian league are divided into two caterogies: those that are professional, and those that are eks-perserikatan, or, ex-association clubs. These ex-assocation clubs are often used by regional political leaders and are a means for these politicians to strengthen their political popularity. Clubs such as Persib Bandung become symbols not just for the city of Bandung itself, but for the region of West Java. The PSSI’s long-reluctance to separate mainstream political involvement in the running of clubs is regarded by some as being one of the main factors preventing the full-professionalisation of the game (24th January 2007, Kompas, p.30). Owing to the confusion of the legitimacy of how the APBD funds could be used the start of the 2007 season was delayed by one week, while representatives of clubs such as Persebaya (Surabaya, East Java) and Persela (Lamongan, East Java) requested that the league be put on hold for a couple of years so that the clubs could get their finances sorted out (“Polemik APBD: Klub Minta Kompetisi Diliburkan”, 27th January 2007, Kompas, p.30).
Clubs were able to still use the APBD throughout 2007-08 season, however this was a temporary reprieve. The vice-president of the time, Jusuf Kalla (a successful businessman from Sulawesi) stated that the APBD would be better used for investing in football-related infrastructure (pitches, mainly) than dolling out money to clubs on a yearly basis. Again, foreign players copped some of the blame: “there are too many [expensive] foreign players … we should use more local players” (“Sepakbola: Jusuf Kalla: Klub Harus Mandiri”, 5th May 2007, Kompas, p.28), while another commentator lamented, “part of the tragedy of Indonesian football is that much of the APBD is absorbed by foreign players” (“Sepak bola dan Portret Indonesia”, 31st January 2007, Kompas, p.30).