Want to sell a football club? Here’s how Perak did it not too long ago

Back in September 2021, just after a long break from my little involvement with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) 2020 hosted by Malaysia, a chap in Ipoh decided that it would be easy for me to convince the people from the financially-troubled Perak Football Association, to sell their football club – Perak FC.

You’d have thought that buying a football club on the brink of financial ruin would be consigned to a file marked “mental”. Or if you had been drinking the Kool-Aid. But no. Because just three months later, I was appointed its chief executive officer and was then looking through a list of players that the technical team wanted for Perak FC’s campaign for the upcoming Malaysian Premier League.

To cut a long story short, it didn’t go well at all. I was confused when the chap from Perak disappeared. And I became even more confused when there was an attempt to forcibly take over the dying club from the technical team. I was just an employee. An appointed CEO.

At one point, with the constant death threats I was receiving, I thought of throwing in the towel. Tender my resignation, abandon the club and become a Malaysian version of Jimmy Hoffa – missing, presumed dead, seven years later.

But to the annoyance of the technical team, I refused to be the guy who took the club into closure. It seems to me, that there was only one solution – sell the club. And I had approximately three months to do just that.

Like any other company, there are two ways to sell a football club – a share acquisition, or an asset acquisition.

A share acquisition simply involves the buyer acquiring the shares in the football company (either a portion, or the entire issued share capital) from the shareholders. A buyer acquiring the entire shares of the football company acquires everything owned, including the liabilities.

An asset acquisition involves the buyer acquiring selected assets and rights and may assume the responsibility for certain liabilities relating to the football club, subject to negotiations. The buyer and seller will negotiate which assets the buyer will acquire. Assets not agreed to be acquired, will remain with the club.

For Perak, asset acquisition was out the window. Sadly, even though the team (previously Perak, and later Perak FC) had been around for more than 100 years, the club had few assets worth putting on the table.

So, looking at the (lack of) time that I had, I immediately worked on the financial and legal paperwork because that would definitely be the first thing that any potential buyer would expect to see. The process was tedious, but it provided the needed strategic guidance, and facilitated the buy-side due diligence at every elevation of the deal, whether through the simple provision of the audited financial records, cost and schedule, cash flows, or strategic reports and recommendations on reshaping the club, and raising its capital.

The next thing to do was to declare publicly that the club was up for sale. Announce the price tag and patiently wait for the call.

A couple of weeks ago, I received worried communications from representatives from Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan, and Kedah – all heading towards despair. This made me sad because, while I’m no great fan of the clubs, they have added colour and variety to the domestic league. They are special. And the fans are tremendous.

I do not know what bankruptcy means to them (current management). Neither do I know what it has done to their love for the club. But I hope it means enough for them to bravely charge ahead, as I did with Perak FC.

So far, I’ve heard that Kedah had completed its paperwork and is currently in talks with a potential buyer. The owners have vowed to move heaven and earth to resolve the setback. I wish them all the luck in the world.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

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