State govt sponsorship policies poison football associations

It is fairly safe to say that most football fans don’t really understand the profound socio-economic implications of state government sports sponsorship or spending on their quality of life.

For those who understand, most would have chosen to remain indifferent as the spending of millions per season feeds their longing and yearning of winning a major trophy.

What causes fans to abandon their logic isn’t clear. The subject matter, if spoken, is only heard behind conspiratorial hands and by the time the state government chips in, the club lunatics suddenly have access to more than RM20 million that they could spend on all sorts of harebrained ideas and projects.

Immediately, 80 to 90 per cent of the proceeds will be wasted on player’s wages alone, luring the ‘best’ footballers to the club that would hopefully provide them a greater chance to win trophies and subsequently, the love of the people.

I’m not sure I follow this strategy because this framework of thinking doesn’t guarantee results and has been proven many times over as a failure.

Just have a look at Terengganu. The last time they ever won something significant was way back in 2011 (FA Cup). Since then, the state government would have probably spent something close to RM200 million.

Yes, most people in the state football associations are eternally daft. A lot of money was pissed away by those in power and no substantial allocation was made on anything that would have made our local football clubs more equitable and financially sustainable.

State funds should be spent on public commodities – schools, hospitals, public transportation, telecommunications, etc.

And the reason for doing so is that we must always ensure taxpayers’ money is spent on assets or properties that could provide the greatest amount of return to the public.

Spending on professional football does not promote sustainability, cleaner living, better roads, improved healthcare and education. But because paying a professional footballer up to RM120,000 a month means a chance to get second place in the Malaysian Super League or winning the FA Cup or Malaysia Cup, nobody dares to say that the RM20 million per season could have been best spent on building a hospital or a state-owned university.

If the state government insists on sponsoring their state football club, we have no issues. Malaysia is littered with this spending madness.

However, the sponsorship must be issued with full accountability and with the need for the club to fulfill certain clear deliverables. One of the key deliverables is for the club to have a fully functioning marketing or business development department that would ensure the sustainability of the club within a stipulated period of time agreed by both parties.

The ability to satisfy this deliverable will ensure that the need for an annual monetary injection from the state government is not permanent, and the club becomes financially self-sustaining.

We cannot continue to allow state governments to sponsor state football clubs without any form of accountability or clear commercial expectations.

The state governments’ obvious lack of interest in their investment is not just a stark abuse of public funds, but poor leadership that reinforces the uncontrolled and unchecked governance and rotten commercial practices prevalent in many state football associations.

But once in a blue moon, the club will end up with a major trophy. And when that moment comes, we will all forget our sad state of affairs and the hundreds of millions of ringgit spent.

The state government becomes blinded from an overwhelming feeling of gratefulness, and I will be judged in the Twitter court for being a complete fool.

Because winning a major trophy or winning against the bulletproof Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, is something many would proudly boast about. Boo!

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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