M-League teams need to embrace right stakeholders to survive Covid-19

Not many professional leagues are happening in Australia right now. However, I have been fortunate to be working in one – baseball.

The 2020/21 Australian Baseball League organisers and the competing teams, some comprising Major League players, are obviously having a ‘tricky’ season with changes happening literally by the hour, disrupting the fixtures.

Even Perth Glory FC, the football club that I once served, had to move its season opener due to the 14-day mandatory restrictions before playing their first game with another Australian team. The English Premier League has been forced to postpone games due to Covid-19.

Most of the professional leagues are forced to be nimble, flexible and have to react quickly in a bid to complete their respective seasons.

If it’s that difficult, why not just cancel the league?

The sentiments and interests of the stakeholders must be taken into account. In well-governed and organised leagues, the importance of pleasing the sponsors supersedes the idea of cancelling the season.

These stakeholders are not your ticket holders or fans who purchase your merchandise. This is 2021 and the stakeholders of today are the broadcasters, betting sites, eSports companies and e-commerce entities, among others.

The new normal has seen matches played in empty stadiums. The leagues continue because millions of dollars are being pumped into the sport as the live broadcast can be sold.

The same cannot be said in Malaysia, home of the M-League. History has documented the series of fumbles when it comes to Malaysian football. And today, the guardians of the league still cannot beam matches consistently without inviting a scandal.

But for a handful of clubs, no other team bothered to set up a database of fans.

It also remains to be seen if the 2021 M-League season will begin on schedule due to the spike in Covid-19 cases.

So where are we headed to?

Is the organiser of the league prepared to change matches, venues and kick-off times? Are the teams willing to play matches early in the morning or evening?

Can the players and officials assure the authorities they will not sneak out of camp should a sports bubble concept be applied?

And the most important question of all, will salary be paid on time?

Top leagues in the world and even the mega Olympics were crippled by Covid-19. So how ready is Malaysia? Is the Malaysian football scene ready to handle a year (or maybe more) of uncertainty?

If we can sort this out, we then need to start working on databases of fans – something I have been harping about for some time.

There are ways to work around the pandemic to ensure continuity in sports. But as long as those helming the football teams flex their power and influence to only spend on today and disregard the stakeholders, there will not be any form of stability in the long run.

Here’s a gentle reminder – no matter how powerful or rich one is, he or she is no match for the mighty coronavirus.

So it’s best for the administrators to start thinking ahead and embrace the right stakeholders in a bid to survive this pandemic and stay alive.

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

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