Making big, boring decisions for football clubs to remain sustainable

Just because you’re a former professional footballer and had the experience of playing for Harimau Malaya does not mean that you are entitled to become a chief executive officer of a professional football club.

And just because your club has won the Malaysia Cup and booked a place at one of the most prestigious regional tournaments, does not mean that investments would start flowing in and investors would be knocking on your door.

As a devoted fan of football, I have been headstrong to describe the importance of “success on the pitch”, but now that I have a brain, it seems I have been talking nonsense.

If you spend 80 to 90 per cent of your revenue on star-studded footballers, you may have a better chance of walking away with a trophy. But you would also walk away with the certainty of a club in financial disarray. Because if the footballers are bigger (more important) than the club, when you have to lift them, your spine will shatter.

If you are not royalty and not swimming in your own pool of black gold, you can forget about having a sleek-looking football team and a crispy new stadium.

You had your dreams and now it is time to grow up.

You must put thought towards the commodification of your football team, and you must give equal importance to the investments made at the office (off-the-pitch), if not more.

I know that this is as cool as having suede elbow patches but really, you need to be boring and old if you want that club of yours to be around for 100 years or more.

There are several ways to lessen the pain of the certainty of being a mid-table or lower club. Some choose the narrative of investing in young football talents, trading the possibility of competing for trophies with the pride of having a team packed with home-grown talents.
This is fine, but overdoing the exercise and having no experience on the team is also the same like being a zealot at the other end of the spectrum.

I would love to have Perak FC do well in the league, but anything that young, and with foreign imports having a frenzy from rolling on our grass, just won’t do.

This is the kind of dilemma I faced when buying a car with my wife. As a result, we decided to get a Nissan X-Trail. I convinced myself by saying that it is as much fun to drive as any SUV. And to ensure it did not look too agricultural, my wife suggested that we installed a rather tasteful body kit and fat wheels.

Obviously, I would still rather have a Honda Type-R, but my seed fell on fertile ground, so I can’t.

There is something so utterly boring about being balanced. Become one, and you are admitting that from now on, life is dictated not by the need to live, have fun, and take risks, but to be sensible, practical, and old.

Big, but an obvious decision, no?

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