Another deal turns sour for Malaysian football

Malaysian Football League (MFL) is suing over the top streaming service iflix.

A source from MFL who declined to be named said: “Yes it is true we are taking legal action against iflix. I can’t reveal too much as the case has gone to court.”

The source refused to say how much MFL is suing iflix for but did say it was “in the millions”.

This is not the first time Malaysian football is forced to tackle such drama.

In 2015, the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) entered a partnership with London-based international media rights company, MP & Silva Ltd.

The deal, believed to be worth about RM1.26 billion over 15 years, turned sour a year later. In 2018, MP & Silva Ltd was dissolved by the UK High Court of Justice.

Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership, as MFL was formerly known, entered a partnership with iflix to show the Super League, Malaysia Cup, FA Cup and Premier League on the video-on-demand portal in 2018.

The 10-year deal was reported to be worth RM300 million and was available initially for free before a subscription fee was implemented.

iflix was to create content throughout the season, including match reviews and interviews with players as well as a series of entertainment and lifestyle content.

When the deal was signed, the company said: “This first-of-its-kind joint venture between FMLLP and iflix represents the future of sporting entertainment, putting fans first, bringing Malaysian football back to the people.

“Now, all 20 million smartphone owners and their friends and families in Malaysia, will have unlimited live access to premier Malaysian football for the first time ever.”

Football pundit and journalist Nicolas Anil is also suing iflix for non-payment. His case is up for mention today.

Nicolas, who did social media work to promote the Malaysian league, said: “I did work for them since 2018. Even then, the payment was slow but at least I got paid.

“I was hesitant last year but they had agreed to pay me upfront initially and I agreed.

“After that, the money dried up and the last payment I received was in September. Despite many reminders, my payment request was ignored and I had no choice but to take legal recourse.”

He said the people he dealt with had left the company.

Last year, iflix collaborated with Twitter to combine live stream technology and social media commentary to engage the mobile-first generation for local matches.

The company had planned an initial public offering this year but that evaporated due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last month, however, China’s Tencent Holdings agreed to acquire content, technology and resources belonging to iflix – but crucially didn’t take on the Malaysian company’s debt.

The Chinese company did not disclose the value of the deal.

iflix is also facing another potential legal suit. On July 17, the producers of local political thriller Daulat posted on their Facebook page that they have issued a letter of demand to iflix as it hasn’t paid the licence fee that was due on July 1.

Daulat debuted exclusively on iflix in April and received good reviews.