Sports bodies jittery as sponsors adopt ‘wait-and-see’ approach

Malaysian sports associations, many of whom are struggling to stay afloat, may find it tough securing funds due to the “wait-and-see” approach by potential sponsors.

The political uncertainty has also got brands withholding their business plans as they are unsure of the government’s direction and policy.

An administrator of a national body admitted it has been tough securing sponsors as the year will come to an end soon.

“We have resources until the end of this year. It will be a different scenario next year. We may have enough to last until the second quarter. Things need to start moving again for us to survive beyond that,” said the seasoned administration who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Companies have been non-committal. They are facing difficulties internally and are unsure if their strategies will be in line with the government’s direction and policies.”

Malaysia Mixed Martial Arts Association (MASMMAA) said it is treating 2021 as a “reset year” and will instead start looking for funds for 2022.

“Our plan is to look towards 2022. For 2021, we will still actively look for sponsors as we know many companies are hoping for a fresh start,” said MASMMAA president Rashid Salleh.

“We have a little money in the bank, but we are going to be prudent. We will take whatever little we get. There’s not going to be any white knights as everyone is suffering.”

Rashid acknowledged entertainment and sports usually take the back seat in such trying times.

“Many people have lost their jobs as companies are downsizing due to the gloomy economic climate. It is unfair for us to go knocking on their doors when they have had to shed their own staff,” he said.

Given the grave situation, the Olympic Council of Malaysia Trust Management Committee last week approved the establishment of the second Covid-19 fund amounting to RM300,000.

National sports associations in dire need of financial assistance can apply for the funds with monies expected to be disbursed by the first week of November.

Funding is capped at RM10,000 for every OCM ordinary member and RM5,000 for each associate member.

Perak Athletic Association president Datuk Karim Ibrahim said it gets a bulk of its funds from the state government.

However, he admits funding from the state government could be significantly reduced as tax-payers’ money would be spent on battling Covid-19.

“It is important for associations not to rely 100 per cent on government funding. While we thank them for their investment, sports bodies must also find ways to raise funds,” said Karim, a former Malaysian Athletics Federation president.

“The government right now is not stable. We must have a contingency plan.”

Karim said the budget requirements for a state association are significantly lower than that of a national body.

He also said athletics was different compared to sports like badminton and football that could still rely on the sales of tickets – if fans are allowed to flock the stands next year.

He added the association would continue approaching sponsors.

“We will try to get whatever we can get. Sponsors are not going to throw money at us. If they invest RM1 in us, we have to give them RM1 in return.

“If there are no sponsors, our next alternative would be to bank on wellwishers through fundraising activities. We will make sure our programmes remain intact for 2021,” said Karim.