Malaysia was an Asian football juggernaut that produced the likes of Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, Datuk Soh Chin Ann, Datuk Santokh Singh and Datuk R. Arumugam.
For decades, the nation was revered as a powerhouse of footballing talents and innovation. Yet, somehow we’ve ended up with a bunch of administrative narcissists driving the future of our football clubs to the gutters.
It’s weird and slightly depressing because you’ll notice that the same problem is also affecting the politics of this country.
Football executives are showered with loads of money from their major sponsors – money which they never had to work for.
Chief executive officers of football clubs are tasked, at the beginning of every season, to make decisions involving millions of taxpayers’ money.
Every season, these clubs receive sponsorship of approximately RM20-30 million from their very generous state governments.
But the very best part of the deal is that the funding is channeled without much supervision or care.
The lack of interest and sense of responsibility from the state governments mean clubs can get away with poor spending habits – like spending 90 per cent of their revenues on players’ salaries or not investing a serious amount of that money in any form of marketing or commercial development initiatives.
Poor financial management practices have led to players not receiving their salaries for months if not years.
So here’s the deal. If you are wise, well educated, and well read, why on earth would you decide to continue sponsoring and endorsing a football club that has a history of poor financial practice?
And despite all the accounts of poor governance, if you still feel a huge sense of obligation to sponsor the state football club, why not do so with the intent of effecting some positive change?
Sponsorship is an investment. It means taking the care and trouble to look into key investment decisions, co-defining the commercial direction of the club, establishing the environment best suited to achieving the commercial objectives, as well as setting and demonstrating the behaviours or cultures necessary to support a positive change.
Throwing money and not giving a care for what happens next are negligence, and to an extent, a form of endorsement that reinforces the malpractices and financial transgression of the club.
Major sponsors or state governments must be made liable for the financial misdeeds of the institutions that they bankroll, especially when taxpayers’ money is involved.
Anyone would be happy for the state government to sponsor their state football club. I have no qualms either.
But if my “daddy” dropped millions of ringgit onto my laps and not give a damn, I could likely end up spending every single sen overnight, party all night long or be dead.
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.