In jumping the gun, KLFA-Rinani Group-KL City FC deal nothing but a big fat communication breakdown

“Maybe some want me to fail.”

Those were the words of Khalid Abdul Samad, sitting comfortably at a table at Amanah’s office in Jalan Tinju in Shah Alam, Selangor, this morning.

The Kuala Lumpur FA (KLFA) president didn’t pull any punches over what seemed to be a massive communication breakdown that has resulted in a few red faces and dented egos.

On Feb 7, Rinani Group Bhd issued a press release saying it had acquired Kuala Lumpur City FC. This was after a signing ceremony during halftime of the Federal Territories Minister Cup, between the city side, and Perak FC on Feb 4.

However, KLFA’s deputy president 1, Syed Yazid Syed Omar, on Feb 9, said it was still the owner of KL City FC. This caused massive confusion among fans and stakeholders.

Khalid, a seasoned politician who served in the previous government as Federal Territories minister, addressed the fiasco.

Khalid started by explaining the chronology of events. He revealed, in a nutshell:

  • KLFA had been in talks with Rinani Group since August last year.
  • The exco was aware of the proposed deal, and it was brought up in its Jan 31 exco meeting. Khalid also scrolled through his phone and said that the matter was also discussed over WhatsApp. The exco members were invited to Rinani Group’s Chinese New Year do.
  • Rinani Group may have ‘jumped the gun’ in their press release, as the company and KLFA had only signed a ‘Term Sheet’. This was not reflected in the press release.
  • Rinani Group paid a deposit of RM1 million which was used to pay KL City’s players’ December salaries.
  • KL City has yet to pay the players’ January salaries, thus the need to secure a deal as soon as possible, with Rinani Group’s offer the only proposal on the table.

Khalid did not want to offend his potential investors but admitted that the press release was “not right.”

“What we signed that night was a ‘Term Sheet’,” he reiterated, adding that the press statement was not sent to him personally before it was released to the public.

“While it is legally binding, it is about what is supposed to be in the shares’ sales agreement. In the Term Sheet, there is a termination clause, in case things don’t work out, following the outcome of the due diligence by both parties.

“The deposit of RM1 million (by Rinani Group) was used to pay salaries for December. We’ve not paid salaries for last month.”

But why didn’t the exco, namely the KLFA deputy president 1, Syed Yazid Syed Omar, consult Khalid before making a statement regarding the deal?

“I have no idea,” was Khalid’s immediate reply.

“We are generally okay. We may not see eye to eye on certain matters. It’s more of the statement issued by Rinani. The word ‘acquisition’ can only be used once you (the company) have signed the share sale agreement.”

But Khalid is not looking to reprimand his deputy for the outburst.

Dressed in a red Baju Melayu and black pants, Khalid took a sip of soda and said: “I’ve got enough enemies. I don’t want to create more. They (some exco members) feel I’ve done something I shouldn’t have, but they should have talked to me.

“To say they (exco members) were unaware is not true. I can’t have exco meetings every day. We aren’t a corporate body. Sometimes, things move fast. But no shares have been sold (for now).”

Khalid said details of the Term Sheet will be tabled to the exco during its meeting “by the end of this month”.

When told that he seemed to have been put in a corner by his own exco, Khalid said in jest: “I’m always talking my way out of a corner.”

Khalid believes certain quarters within KLFA may not be too happy with KL City’s RM10 million valuation. This comes after the city squad won the Malaysia Cup in 2021, after 32 years, and finished second in the AFC Cup last year.

“I asked for more, but the group (Rinani) asked: ‘What’s your ROI (return on investment)?’, ‘What’s your revenue?’ We have the name, but that’s it,” said Khalid.

“The exco members can argue or object, but many don’t provide alternatives. Also, Rinani Group has what it takes to develop the club and football.”

He also added that the higher-ups in Rinani Group “enjoy good synergy” with the current management at KL City FC.

Khalid stressed that over the years, exco members were told to find suitable candidates to invest in KL City FC. But none came back with partners who could put money on the table.

“From my perspective, Rinani Group seems to be the perfect group. We don’t want people to come in and piggyback on the football team.

“This is a partner who has their own business and the capacity to generate funds and turn KL City around to become viable.”

Khalid shared that Rinani Group had set a target of three to five years for the turnaround process. This includes building a fan base and maximising merchandise and advertisements.

In the meantime, Khalid said KLFA is trying to secure RM10 million from Kuala Lumpur City Hall.

“We want to be privatised. We want to get the burden off our backs.

“KLFA needs to go to the grassroots and start relieving ourselves of the responsibility of funding KL City … our share ownership should go down to 10 per cent.

“We want to start with Rinani Group, and they too, want to see what happens to KLFA after this, as my term (as president) ends later this year,” he added.