No tax exemptions for companies investing in sports a downer, says academy owner

The government would have done grassroots sports players in Malaysia a huge favour by providing tax exemptions to companies wanting to invest in sports academies.

Yet, there was no mention of tax exemptions for companies when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim tabled Budget 2024 at the Dewan Rakyat this evening.

N. Rada Krishnan, the man behind Youth Football Academy (YFA) Red Star, admitted it has been difficult getting companies to invest in his academy, as there are not tax exemptions.

The academy was supported by CIMB Bank Bhd from 2008 to 2019. With a sponsorship of some RM200,000 annually, YFA Red Star was able to produce a string of talents, including national footballer Kogileswaran Raj.

“But their sponsorship stopped in 2020. In fact, I just had a chat with their representatives yesterday, and they told me they were eager to sponsor, only if they could get some form of tax relief from the government,” said Rada, who was runner-up for the Asian Football Confederation Best Grassroots Leader award in 2018.

“Thanks to their funds, we managed to buy good equipment and prepare the team for stints nationwide and even abroad. Our Under-14 and Under-16 teams even stayed for a week in Vietnam to train.

“We can’t be knocking on the Youth and Sports Ministry’s doors, as they have so many other sports and academies to look at. The academy is a business after all. But we have corporations that are willing to come in and be a part of our journey. It would make sense for these friendly parties to be given tax exemptions instead of expecting the government to fork out the funds.”

Rada highlighted another important aspect – ensuring that all children, regardless of their economic backgrounds, got involved in sports.

“I’m running an academy. There are many others who run academies, too. If they can get sponsors, the academy owners can, in return, sponsor kids from the lower income  families, and train them. Otherwise, academies will start insisting that only those who pay can play. What then, happens to the kids from poor families?

“I wished the government had considered this (when tabling Budget 2024).”

CIMB is no stranger to the sports scene, having sponsored squash and cycling, as well.

Anwar, when tabling Budget 2024, seemed to have left out several pertinent points contained in the prepared text speech. He said there will be a tax exemption on the purchase of sports equipment, limited to RM1,000. However, in the prepared text, the tax exemption also included expenditure on fees for sports training.

It is unclear if the RM1,000 tax exemption is on top of, or a reduction to the current RM2,500 tax relief for the purchase of sports equipment and an additional RM500 for sports-related expenses.

Also in the prepared text,  which Anwar did not mention, was a 10 per cent cut from the income aggregate of individuals or companies that contributed to institutions, organisations, or funds that carry out educational programmes, especially sports education, under subsection 44(6) of the Income Tax Act 1967. Sports academies like YFA Red Star, however, do not fall under this category.

Other sports-related announcements included:

  • An RM72 million allocation to strengthen the athlete ecosystem, including RM20 million for the Road to Gold programme.
  • RM12 million set aside for the National Sports Council for training programmes and to prepare para-athletes for international meets.
  • RM50 million to maintain and upgrade youth and sports facilities nationwide.

Anwar added that the government will continue to provide a matching grant of RM50 million to encourage the organisation of competitions by sports bodies or the private sector.

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