Monday, January 2, 2017

Serang, tembak atas, anam...

Bila umur dah nak separuh abad ni, aku tak sambut tahun baharu kalendar gregorian, tapi aku mengenang 2016 dengan perasaan bercampur baur.


Astro Arena mengusahakan bakat barisan hadapan (frontliners) (pasal paling mudah kena maki) mendapat sut tajaan Kinslager pada Julai


Aku dan legenda hoki negara, Mirnawan Nawawi (kini bergelar Datuk) menjadi penyampai di studio sepanjang kempen Olimpik Rio de Janeiro, bergilir dengan Burn, Dayang Zainatull Aqma Abang Zulkarnain dan Intan Nor Saina, baju tajaan Kinslager


Kami bergambar kenangan di set khas, beberapa hari sebelum temasya bermula


Di saat budak Larkin, Kulim dan Pilah "bercuti" di Rio


Kami turut diperkenalkan oleh Astro kepada media sempena bulan kemerdekaan


Berucap pada sidang media...alamak first time. Nasib baik ditemani legenda Mirnawan dan Hakim Amir Nazri. Hilang nervous!


Sebelum bermulanya Olimpik, Burn dan Mirnawan mengacarakan program pra Olimpik, bersama Tan Sri Al Amin Majid. Aku pesan Tan Sri you jangan lupa lepas Rio you datang Dengan Izin, tetamu episod pertama...jangan lari tau, mana tahu bawak balik emas


Lepas Olimpik, ada program Pasca Olimpik, aku jadi tetamu selaku pemerhati dan penganalisis menemani Ketua Eksekutif Institut Sukan Negara (ISN), Dr Khairi Zawi (sebelum dia dapat Datuk)


Pada malam Datuk Lee Chong Wei menewaskan seteru ketatnya Lin Dan pada separuh akhir perseorangan lelaki, aku dan Burn penyampai di studio, berlintas langsung dengan Ahmed Shahrazad Sani di Riocentro Pavilion 4



Ahmed dijulang sebagai wira sekembalinya ke tanah air hasil laporan yang penuh emosi dan menyentuh perasaan, aku pun tumpang tuiii la... 


Aku suka baju ungu nih, pasal nampak kurus sikit hahahaha



Maklumlah, aku ni rendah sikit, jadi bila nak shoot promo pun kena ada bantuan dari segi ketinggian. Diaorang pulak pairkan aku dengan Burn, mana aci....


Terima kasih kepada Astro Arena, sesekali menjemput aku datang Bola@Mamak


Selain Bola@Mamak, aku jadi penganalisis di studio sepanjang Euro 2016



Astro Awani pun selalu jemput. Bila Kamarul Bahrin Haron, wartawan TV terbaik dan pengacara TV terbaik Anugerah Seri Angkasa 2016 jemput, takkan tak pergi babe....


2016 juga noktah untuk kolumku di Four-Four-Two....jadi aku hilang satu platform berkongsi pandangan dalam Bahasa Inggeris...


Aku dijemput oleh Lee Seng Foo untuk menulis sejak 2014 tapi setiap perjalanan ada pengakhirannya



Juga terima kasih kepada rakan-rakan dari Sinar Harian dan Kosmo yang sudi mencari aku untuk memberi ulasan sesuatu isu


Terima kasih Astro Awani mengundang ke studio



Juga kepada team Vbuzz dari rangkaian Vinmeen yang mengundang aku ke studio jugak


Berkongsi pengalaman dalam media sukan




Sebagai penyampai di Astro Arena, kami dikehendaki menyumbang kolum seminggu sekali di stadiumastro.com. Selain itu pendapat aku juga kadang kala diminta, klik di sini dan di sini

Tapi biasalah aku tidak sunyi daripada kontroversi. Ramai betul nak siku aku rupanya.

Tulisan aku Pemimpin dan Budaya Menganjing mengundang kecaman dan makian.







Hahaha aku bukan menulis kerana nama.....jadi apabila aku bercakap atau menulis sesuatu yang positif, apakah ia membawa maksud aku mahu pingat daripada Sultan Johor? 



Syukur ke hadrat Ilahi aku diberi ruang untuk berkongsi pandangan di pelbagai platform. 

2016 juga aku bekerja keras untuk menyempurnakan misi Dengan Izin musim keenam yang berakhir dengan episod satu jam bersama ketua jurulatih bola sepak kebangsaan, Datuk Ong Kim Swee.


Bersama Presiden Kesatuan Ragbi Malaysia (KRM), Datuk Shahrul Zaman Yahya


Nasib pakai stokin


Untuk julung kalinya, kami buat dua episod berturut-turut bersama tetamu yang sama, Dr Khairi


Jaguh bina badan, Sazali Abdul Samad, meluahkan perasaannya digantung empat tahun


Terima kasih Tan Sri Al Amin, K. Logan Raj, ketua eksekutif Konfederasi Hoki Malaysia (KHM), Datuk Wira Yusoff Mahadi (timbalan presiden Persatuan Bola Sepak Melaka) dan Jefri Ngadirin, pemangku pengarah bahagian atlet Majlis Sukan Negara (MSN)



Oooppssss terlupa butang blazer...


Best bersoal jawab dengan B. Sathianathan selaku presiden Persatuan Jurulatih Bola Sepak Malaysia 



Episod penutup bersama Kim Swee, selama satu jam. Terima kasih Datuk, kerana sudi menerima pelawaan kami, sedangkan dua jurulatih terdahulu Datuk K. Rajagobal dan Dollah Salleh menolak. Episod bersama Kim Swee, yang ke-13 dalam musim keenam, dirakam pada Rabu 21 Disember  Sekalung penghargaan buat penerbit Slamet, Solleh dan Faiz serta semua krew terlibat.


Untuk 12 episod, aku habiskan sebelum pengacara Astro Arena dibawa ke Janda Baik untuk sesi wacana harmoni atau retreat pada 16, 17 dan 18 Disember. Terima kasih atas layanan istimewa, kelas pagi-pagi selepas bersenam dan aktiviti serta ilmu yang dikongsi oleh Datuk Hishamuddin Aun mengenai lapan rukun menulis kolum, Suhaimi Sulaiman dan Wawa Idris. Terima kasih kepada pengurusan Astro Arena diketuai John Nienaber, Ahmad Khawari Isa dan Slamet Sazly Yakub kerana memberi kami ruang untuk menimba ilmu. Sejambak tahniah buat Zulkifli Ahmad (Ajoy) sebagai penghulu kem dan penolongnya, Azman Azmi yang merakam kerenah dan keletah kami. Tetapi entah kenapa aku sering menjadi bahan rakan-rakan sekelas di Janda Baik...


Khawari cakap kitaorang ibarat penyerang dalam pasukan. Best salespersons untuk Astro Arena! Tapi ada ke patut kitaorang dipaksa mula-mula cakap pasal orang sebelah, bukan pasal diri sendiri, lepas tu kena pulak cakap kelemahan mereka! Aduh...ice-breaker ke tension-maker!


Sampai-sampai pergi jungle trekking konon


Bab makan best...


First time kebanyakan kami didedahkan dengan paintball! Macam bebudak!


Aduh, Suhaimi tanya "how many books have you written?" Suhaimi jugak cakap "entah I pun tak tahu dua lelaki bercakap dalam bilik gelap" merujuk kepada program Dengan Izin, disambut gelak ketawa satu kelas!


Photobomb dengan ikon media...Suhaimi mengingatkan setiap penyampai untuk menonjolkan unique selling point masing-masing!

Wacana harmoni itu sebenarnya penutup paling menggembirakan untuk kami yang jarang-jarang dapat berhimpun dalam suasana santai tetapi penuh pengisian. Aku bersyukur dapat peluang bekerja dengan sekelompok manusia yang benar-benar berbakat semula jadi, seperti Akbar Sahari yang dramatik dan boleh berlakon, Intan Nor Saina yang membaca puisi sebagai tanda perpisahan, Hj Shaukei Kahar yang dapat pen pasal diundi penulis yang menjadi sumber inspirasi kelas, Hj Zainal Abidin Rawop dan Burn yang terror poco-poco serta istilah SERANG, TEMBAK ATAS dan ANAM yang menjadi cogan kata kumpulan!

Bagi tahun baharu 2017 pula, aku menukilkan pandangan di stadiumastro.com. Baca di sini

Semoga 2017 menghadirkan sukses untuk sukan negara dan juga kami di Astro Arena!


Friday, December 30, 2016

Thirteen years ago, when the Super League was launched...


I wrote this for the Malay Mail shortly after the Malaysian Super League (MSL) was launched. Thirteen LONG years have passed since then...and most of the questions I posed in 2004 remain unanswered due to a variety of factors.


The logo changes whenever there is a new title sponsor enters the scene...but nothing much has changed in terms of managing the stakeholders. With little effort to make football a sustainable industry, the issue of Kelantan wanting to withdraw and Selangor's internal bickering will be symptomatic of our woes, with no real solution in sight.

THIS ARTICLE APPEARED ON THE MALAY MAIL ON JANUARY 2004

THE launch of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) has opened a new chapter in the history of football in the country, 15 years after the semi-pro league was launched and nine years after the league turned fully pro in 1995.

In reality though, Malaysian football was professional only in name. That is typically Malaysian, given that style is always preferred over substance.

On the global front, the great game appeals to Kings and Queens down to the simple man in the street.

For the average Malaysian fan, it lost its luster long ago.

The MSL, nonetheless, deserves a chance.

It could be the league's first step towards taking a truly professional character.

Although cynics may claim that FAM have only conjured up a new name under the same old regime and administration, the fact remains the national body were bold enough to restrict the top league to a deserving few. 

Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor Public Bank, Penang, Sarawak, Kedah and Sabah have earned the privilege of becoming the interpreter of FAM's league ambitions, which ultimately is to produce a quality national side.

This formula was first introduced by the Korean FA who kicked off their pro league in 1983. They began with only two professional clubs - Yukong Elephants and Hallelujah FC - and three amateur teams, POSCO Atoms, Daewoo Royals and Citizens National Bank.

Still K-League was an example of quality rather than quantity. From such a small number of clubs, the league succeeded in producing the players to help the Koreans qualify for five successive World Cups, the last one in 2002 by virtue of being co-hosts with Japan.

But then again they have a large pool of talent to choose from. Furthermore they have laid a strong foundation, in terms of finance, technical support and fan-base.

They confined the top league to eight teams, whereas we have the Super League as well as the Premier League which has been divided into two groups.

In our case, is the MSL the answer to our woes?

Part of FAM's renaming of the league is to plan ahead in three phases in the evolution of the MSL - Phase 1 (2004-2007), Phase 2 (2008-2011) and Phase 3 (2012-2015).

By the year 2015, FAM hope to have 10 teams for MSL, all helmed by coaches who hold a UEFA Professional Diploma, supported by a panel of qualified personnels comprising two assistant coaches, fitness trainer, goalkeeper coach, a doctor, physiotherapist, trained masseur and a football development centre to call home.

Not to mention a complete youth programme incorporating the First Touch programme. These are all noble intentions but have FAM rectified the weaknesses at various levels?

The large presence of foreign players will surely create a negative impact on the emergence of young local players. The likes of Hairuddin Omar, Akmal Rizal Ahmad Rakhli and Indra Putra Mahayuddin came to the fore in the absence of foreign signings.

And are FAM's vetting committee scrutinising the credentials of every foreign applicant?

K-League and the J-League, when launched in 1993, attracted a host of ex-internationals and ex-World Cuppers.

Can we do the same? FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah however, defended the idea of having the MSL.

"Something had to be done about the sinking fortunes of the national team. Our aim is to provide a platform for every team to improve in all aspects," said Tengku Abdullah.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Returning the game to the masses


Usually I send my column to Lee Seng Foo, the managing editor of Four-Four-Two Malaysia, way beyond deadline! For the latest issue (December), it was written in early November. It has been overtaken by events, so here goes...


A day after the heart-breaking defeat on penalties to Kedah in the Malaysia Cup final in October, it was revealed that FA of Selangor (FAS) – rocked by internal dispute and allegations of mismanagement – would no longer enjoy State funding.

Unlike previous years, there was no mention of football in Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s budget proposal for his State for the year 2017 at the Selangor State Legislative Assembly. Azmin, to the uninitiated, happens to also be the president of FAS.

This was possibly Azmin’s way of retaliating to what was a real acid test of his leadership in August.

The majority of FAS exco members staged a walk out when Azmin, chairing the meeting, was planning to announce the new head coach to replace Zainal Abidn Hassan and privatisation plans for the Super League next season.

The walk out was designed to undermine Azmin’s position after he had earlier forced the resignation of two of FAS’ senior officials, namely treasurer Datuk S. Sivasundaram and secretary general Rosman Ibrahim, who were perceived as being the stumbling blocks to FAS’ privatisation efforts.

A newbie in football, by now Azmin must have realised the cut-throat world of football management and running the State can be equally demanding.

Selangor is a case in point where calls for reforms in football governance that have been made for many years have fallen on deaf ears.

But largely due to today’s borderless world, the move has gathered momentum in recent times. With a new generation of fans who are enlightened enough on the happenings around the world, their desire to effect changes knows no bounds.

In the present eco-system, though, effecting changes may mean a head-on collision with the powers-that-be.

A cursory glance on the 12 teams in the Super League, three teams are State-based who enjoy the patronage of the chief executive of the State. The two Malaysia Cup finalists – Kedah and Selangor – are helmed by Menteris Besar while Terengganu FA has the Menteri Besar as acting president.

In juggling between political and State official duties, the norm is to leave footballing matters into the trusted hands of a proxy.

While everyone understands football no longer holds amateurish or part-time status, in reality our game remains amateur. Professionals and salaried staff are required to run the game at all levels in every State FA yet how many associations can name a chief executive, a marketing manager, a technical director, a media officer and a medical doctor on their payroll? 

This is the point being made by observers and fans alike. Without fulfilling these criteria, Malaysian football cannot meet the demands of the modern game. It is indeed unfortunate that despite the Super League being launched amidst fanfare in January 2004, there is nothing super about the standard being dished out, both in terms of governance and performance.

When Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the then deputy president of FAM, launched the Super League in January 2004, he delivered a 15-page speech touching on the future of Malaysian football.

He had envisaged for a Super League team to have a complete set-up, with an academy, a team bus, a pool of administrators and a training facility by 2016.

When Khairy Jamaluddin was elected as the deputy president of FAM-cum-chairman of MSL Sdn Bhd, FAM’s investment arm, he pushed for a commercial agenda involving the private sector, which included stadia as marketing tools, State micro-leagues sponsored by selected corporate giants and a reality TV show.

Clearly the top down approach does not work. We need to change, and change now.

As a football aficionado, I am desperate to see the fruition of the JDT Foundation which offers the fans to co-own the team, much like the way Barcelona and Real Madrid are registered as member-owned non-profit sports organisations.

Not only will it ensure a high level of fan involvement and engagement, the fans will be able to elect the team chief.

There will be no issue of a leader overstaying his welcome. The fans will get to control the fate of the team and maybe pay an average of RM600 to enjoy member privileges and those who aspire to be the president must provide a bank guarantee.

This means the candidates are successful businessmen who do not need football to earn a living nor garner political mileage.

It’s time to return football back to its real owners - the masses.

Friday, December 9, 2016

FAM, the league and community-based clubs

The idea of a league independent of the FA of Malaysia, on top of community-based clubs, was first discussed in 1999.

This article appeared on The Malay Mail February 20, 2005, following FAM's decision to appoint PwC in proposing a restructure. The outcome?


SIX years ago, a group of officials from the FA of Malaysia (FAM) descended on the land of the Rising Sun to conduct a study on the progress made by Japan.

The six-man group were led by the then FAM assistant secretary, Datuk Yap Nyim Keong. Forming the team were the then head of academies, Datuk Paduka Ahmad Basri Mohd Akil, the ex-director-general of education, Datuk Shukor Abdullah, former FAM director of coaching Ronald Smith, the then FAM council member Datuk Dell Akbar Khan and former national Under-19 coach B. Sathianathan.

This writer was among the privileged few to be given an insight into how the Japanese had made the quantum leap, when in fact they had kicked off their development programme based on the Malaysian model following a visit to Kuala Lumpur in 1980.

Today, none of the individuals who formed the study group remain in FAM.

Unfortunately, the report they submitted to the FAM top brass was never put into practice. The conclusion from the tour was a change in the FAM set-up and how things were conducted were imperative if we were to move with the times.

One of them was that FAM must be independent of the State FAs. But it requires the FAM constitution to be amended to enable the body to shift their focus towards developing the sport.

This will also allow FAM to be run by technical people and corporate figures with the principal office-bearers as figureheads.

The idea of a new league structure run by a separate entity was also mooted along the lines of the J-League which is the body that administers the league in Japan.

The J-League, introduced in 1993, requires each club to set down deep roots throughout their home community, with corporate sponsors providing crucial back-up with their administrative skills.

The J-League's board of directors and auditors are elected by the general meeting. The executive committee consists of the chairman, directors with specific responsibilities and one representative selected from each club. The board of directors are the J-League's highest authority in deciding the aims and policies of the league. The executive committee puts those aims and policies into effect as well as deliberating and deciding on matters entrusted to it by the board of directors.

This is where good corporate governance comes in. It provides a system of checks and balances, so that directors are always looking over the shoulders of management.

The national body, which is the Japanese FA (JFA), are thus solely responsible for developing the game at grassroots level through a pyramid structure without being bogged down by affairs of the league.

The idea was not to adopt the Japanese model in totality but some of the proposals put forward were worth a try. Unfortunately, what concerns FAM at this moment is the administrative set-up, when in fact it should be last of the agenda.

Granted there are some weaknesses in the daily administration and maybe a revamp is timely.

So let us see what globally-renowned consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) may have in store for FAM.

According to their website, PwC serve their clients primarily in four areas corporate accountability, risk management, structuring and mergers and acquisitions and performance and process improvement.

Also, their extensive studies into the future of the workplace are designed to help their clients create value for their business through people.

So basically, they will look into the human resource aspects of the body, with health, welfare and retirement benefits for the staff, and the possible addition of a few departments to help FAM establish a more professional outlook.

It's no rocket science really because what FAM need are a team of professionals, who will be held accountable with a set of objectives to be fulfilled within the stipulated period.

For instance if a marketing man were to be employed to market the Super League, he would be given a target to strive for, let us say RM1 million in two years. If he fails, he will be given the boot.

Because of the occupational hazard, he or she will enjoy a lucrative salary.

An association like FAM, who continue to rely on council members to decide on the policies will struggle to meet the demands of today's game. Can PwC help FAM on that score?

We hope Shah Alam Antlers and Petaling Jaya Rangers be the agents of change in an environment which, unfortunately, encourages mediocrity and protects self-serving decision-makers.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

FOUR-FOUR-TWO COLUMN - July 2016

FMLLP IS SUBSERVIENT TO FAM

In March last year, I wrote about the M-League being operated by an entity independent of FA of Malaysia (FAM).

Like many others, the patriot in me was seduced by the idea of a hybrid model league structure designed to elevate both the commercial appeal of the league and the standard of the national team.

"We studied various models in coming up with a structure. Eventually it was decided that FMLLP remain under the auspices of FAM because of national interests. Everything is done with the interests of the national team in mind.

"A totally independent body running the league will drive through its plans without taking into consideration the requirements of the national team," so said Kevin Ramalingam, CEO of FMLLP, or Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership.

Kevin and Co oversee five properties owned by FAM – the Super League, the Premier League, the FA Cup, the Sultan Ahmad Shah Cup or Charity Shield and the Malaysia Cup – in terms of enforcing the rules and regulations of the league, match fixtures, as well as the commercial and broadcasting rights for the M-League, with FAM affiliates having a stake in the structure.

That would be a boost for FAM, who has been running the game with a budget deficit for the past few years. FMLLP was to handle a guaranteed minimum amount of RM70 million a year in a deal with leading international media rights company, MP & Silva, beginning 2016, with a total revenue of RM1.26 billion spread over 15 years.

FMLLP’s baby steps thus far elicit a mixed review.

On the plus side, some of the properties have been given a fresh commercial brand – the Premier League is now known as the 100 Plus Premier League, Malaysia Cup is TM Malaysia Cup and the Superbest Power is the title sponsors of the FA Cup.

MP & Silva and FMLLP have managed to source an estimated RM40 million in sponsorship value, short however of RM30 million as promised. On the downside, there have been murmurs of discontent.

The FA Cup and Malaysia Cup draws were shown live on TV, breaking convention and good for sponsors but offer little for other stakeholders, including the print media. It could be a case of pleasing the sponsors and paying scant regard for the true supporters.

As the face of Malaysian football, the homepage footballmalaysia.com offers a mixture of English and Bahasa Malaysia, similar to that of the FAM, while news, articles and profile features on the landing page are not accompanied with the latest statistics.

Kevin’s threat of issuing action against salary defaulters like the Kelantan FA has fallen on deaf ears. In fact FAM affiliates are gung-ho enough to ignore, question and undermine FMLLP’s authority.

The sad truth is that FAM has its noose on FMLLP’s neck. Kevin is not exactly a new kid on the block, having run the commercial arm of Kelantan FA previously but intelligent enough to hire two veterans of the game – former FIFA referees Nik Ahmad Yakub and Amir Sharifuddin Wong to put FMLLP on an even keel.

Nik Ahmad who previously served in FAM, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and Indonesia is the technical audit and training manager, while Amir Sharifuddin is special projects manager.

But Kevin and Co understand the scenario. They remain subservient to the FMLLP Exective Board, currently comprising FAM representatives – president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, two deputy presidents – Afandi and Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad, general secretary Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin and treasurer, Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.

Under the pretext of protecting national interests, disciplinary matters relating to the league fall under FAM’s auspices, rendering FMLLP toothless in taking action against affiliates laden with unpaid salaries.

FMLLP has no financial department that is independent of FAM.

The red tape is not helping FMLLP’s reputation. The dynamics is such that local football is run by warlords linked to the ruling government.

And imagine the conflicting interests when a member of the FMLLP executive board and the No 2 of the national governing body happens to the deputy president of an affiliate in debt and yet to settle unpaid wages.

The idea is for FMLLP to hasten Malaysian football into the professional world.

The league congress which will consist representatives of the 24 teams in the top two-tier competitions – 12 from the Super League and another 12 from the Premier League – plus five from FAM, FMLLP will then be navigated by the decisions made by the teams themselves.

Before that to happen, Kevin and Co must learn not to promise the stars. Given the present scenario, we are not ready for it a fully professional and privatised football league. Unfortunately.

FOUR-FOUR-TWO COLUMN - June 2016

ASIA IS EUROPE’S CASH COW

I WAS in my teens when Italian Soccer was shown in the mid-80s over TV3, Malaysia’s first private television station.

On the heels of Italy’s World Cup victory in 1982, Serie A enjoyed a new lease of life as it made a turnaround of fortunes after suffering the ignominy of a match-fixing scandal in 1980.

The league attracted football’s crème de la crème.

Michel Platini’s telepathic understanding with Zbigniew Boniek symbolised Juventus’ attacking prowess, while Diego Maradona’s mazy dribbling skills illuminated Napoli.

Fans danced to the samba beat as Socrates, Falcao, Zico, Cerezo and Junior brought the Brazilian flavour to Italy.

The Italians were no slouch either – Paolo Rossi, Giancarlo Antognoni, Gaetano Scirea and Marco Tardelli were classy footballers in their own right.

Sampdoria rose to prominence with the able assistance of Brits like Trevor Francis and Graeme Souness, who provided guidance to youngsters Gianluca Vialli and Roberto Mancini.

Italy was the place to be, even for the technically-challenged Englishman like Luther Blissett. And due to the weekly exposure to Serie A, I vividly remember Bari featured two Englishmen - Paul Rideout and Gordon Cowans during that timeframe.

Cowans who was a vital cog behind Aston Villa’s European Cup victory in 1982, was a cultured left-footed playmaker, not exactly in the mould of the typical English hard-running and hard-tackling midfield terrier.

By the time Bari announced David Platt’s transfer from Aston Villa in 1995, Serie A no longer attracted the greatest talents.

They prefer La Liga or the English top-flight, rebranded as the Premiership in 1992. Serie A does not have the audience share in terms of TV, as the bulk goes to England and the fans no longer fill the stadia.

It is therefore a surprise when Serie B side, Bari, announced that 50 percent of the club’s share are now owned by a Malaysian, Datuk Noordin Ahmad.

Although he has been in business for more than two decades, Noordin is an unknown entity as opposed to AirAsia tycoon and branding guru, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

It was not hard to understand the rationale behind Fernandes’ takeover of Queens Park Rangers (QPR).

He realises the Premiership offered a huge audience from Asia, estimated by a research by the Premier League to be 470 million followers, more than any other region in the world.

It was the best platform to promote his brand all at one go across all market segments in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and India.

AirAsia did their part for the national federation too. The FA of Malaysia (FAM) was a beneficiary of a paltry sum of RM1 million per annum from AirAsia when Khairy Jamaluddin was the deputy president of the body.

About the same time, Mohamed bin Hammam who presided over the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from 2002 to 2011, claimed 61 percent of all football revenue generated in Asia went to the Premier League!

For the 2013-2016 time frame, the Premiership broadcasting deal in Asia was worth an estimated US$1,270 million, with Astro Holdings Berhad paying a reportedly US$200 million to bring the matches to the comforts of our homes.

From the purist’s point of view, Hammam was probably right in saying Europe was taking vast sums of money out of Asia without leaving a lasting legacy.

But football being a huge global broadcasting product that is subject to market forces, investors, marketeers and the moneymen think otherwise.

This begs the question – why not invest big-time in the local game? Ideally a consortium of companies owned by Fernandes, Tan Sri Vincent Tan who owns Cardiff City, Belgian outfit KV Kotrijk and Bosnian club FK Sarajevo and Noordin could have given something back to Malaysian football and its audience.

TV statistics suggest it has a huge following as well.

But one of the biggest stumbling blocks for Malaysian football is the lack of professionalism at all levels.

The only individual who owns a team is Tengku Mahkota Johor, who has done wonders in marketing JDT as a brand and a winning outfit.

Despite promising to invest much as RM16 million for two season into the Kelantan side, Datuk Seri Dr Hasmiza Othman, known as Dr Vida, will testify that she has little authority in determining the course of the elite team, the back-up squad or the academy unless she owns the team, very much like the way JDT is run by Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim.

In short, Malaysian football is not business friendly enough to create a sustainable industry for potential investors. The group of individuals and politicians running Malaysian football are not professionals.

That is why Europe is cashing in!

FOUR-FOUR-TWO COLUMN - May 2016

Heading: Forget about becoming world-beaters, focus on the regional goals first 

Sub head: When Malaysia’s hope of boarding the plane to Brazil went up in smokes, the public made a mockery of the FAM’s 1999 aspirations

Personally I do not blame the public for throwing brickbats at the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) for an announcement they made way back in 1999 that, unfortunately for the fat cats at the Wisma FAM, has come back to haunt them.

There were several key decisions made by the FAM technical committee on July 29 that year to be exact.

As a representative of the Malay Mail in charge of covering the FAM beat, I was there along with my colleagues from the mainstream media, rubbing our hands with glee about the prospect of the governing body hitting the headlines – either for the right or wrong reasons – yet again.

Just to jog your memory, among the key decisions made were:

# two referees were to officiate in that year’s Malaysia Cup
# Ronald Smith, the Australian coach who made his name at Sabah, was to handle the national back-up team for the Bangabandhu Independence Cup in Bangladesh the following year
# a fitness licence was to be introduced in 2001 to ensure only players certified fit after a battery of tests were allowed to play in the league;
# and, of course, the most outlandish one had to be the announcement of Malaysia wanting to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Oh yes, I was there when that dream was shared with the media. Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, deputy president of FAM in 1999, told the media a blueprint was in the process of being drafted and that the national body would be focusing on the cream of the 12-15 years old to develop them as world-beaters.

I recall that it took the media by surprise. Some of us were bemused, others chuckled and scoffed at the idea.

The announcement would have gone viral, to borrow today’s tech-lingo, followed by memes mocking the FAM.

It naturally elicited a negative response. Various quarters argued on mainstream media that a nation that had – and still has – the perennial issue of questionable high-performance track record at all levels should not be suddenly entertaining the idea of participating in the World Cup.

The idea was laughable they said, and they were proven right. Since that fateful day, Malaysia made five attempts at qualifying, to no avail.

It crossed my mind that the FAM were perhaps under pressure to seduce the public with an ambitious project similar to that of the Football Association of Singapore, which made their statement of intent with the Goal 2010 project, a year earlier.

It spawned the Foreign Talent Scheme, which led to the Singapore government granting citizenship to non-Singaporeans.

When Malaysia’s hope of boarding the plane to Brazil in 2014 went up in smokes as early as 2011 with a defeat to, ironically, fierce rivals Singapore, the public made a mockery of the FAM’s 1999 aspirations, with the paper cuttings of the report making their rounds in the Internet.

Two foreign coaches, Allan Harris and Bertalan Bicskei, preceded four local tacticians – B. Sathianathan, Datuk K. Rajagobal, Dollah Salleh and Datuk Ong Kim Swee (to be fair, he was in charge of Malaysia’s solitary win in the latest campaign) – in overseeing Malaysia’s fruitless efforts from 2001 to 2016.

And the players between 12 and 15 years old mooted by Tengku Abdullah in 1999 only had as many as 11 players who eventually lifted the AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010 – Safee Sali, Razman Roslan, Ashaari Shamsuddin, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Amirulhadi Zainal, Sharbinee Alawee, Sabre Mat Abu, Amar Rohidan, Khyril Muhymeen Zambri, Safiq Rahim and S. Kunanlan.

Seventeen years down the road, we have gladly shifted the goal posts. Now we are hyping up the potential of hosting the event, with the powers-that-be floating the idea of co-hosting with Southeast Asian neighbours for the 2034 World Cup.

It suits us to a tee simply because we have become so accustomed to cutting corners, so why not the painless but perhaps expensive of way of hosting the World Cup?

However, instead of doing that, the country should focus on qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

We stand a chance of qualifying through a process involving minnows in the play-offs and current head coach Ong will have a chance to stamp his own mark with a younger generation. If we cannot qualify for the 2019 showcase on merit, we can forget about becoming world-beaters!