BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Although the event held in Johor Bahru by M-League organiser Football Malaysia LLP (FMLLP) on Tuesday was organised to announce a sponsorship deal that will guarantee at least RM104 million, it was ideals and values that got the most airtime during the event.
In the deal between FMLLP and sponsorship agency Ampersand Sports Sdn Bhd, the agency has promised to look for sponsors on behalf of the organisation and procure at least RM104 million over five years' time, beginning in 2018.
However, as the ink was drying on the agreement documents, those who signed them did not speak much of the financial implications. They instead focused on the ideals they said are needed to complement the funds promised.
FMLLP chairman and Malaysian FA (FAM) president Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim stressed the need for unity among all participants of football in Malaysia.
"When there is unity, all changes are more likely to happen. I am quite confident, that if we are all united and accept that we need to change our mentality, Malaysian football can prosper.
"The mindset needs to change, not only among the footballers and clubs, but also among the supporters. If we cannot admit that we are facing problems at the moment, football in our country will not go far. We need to improve it together," said Tunku Ismail in the press conference.
The Johor Crown Prince too expressed his desire to have the 100 per cent of the promised fund to be received by the clubs.
"What we're trying to do now, is to give football back to the people. That's it, as simple as that. No cronyism, no self-interest, therefore I don't want even a sen of this money to be received by the FAM.
"All of it should be received by the participating clubs, and I want clubs, from the lowest tier all the way to the Super League, to receive the benefits. And we all, including the supporters, need to work together to better Malaysian football. Without unity, we cannot go far," he reiterated.
Ampersand Sports too echoed this sentiment. Tan Sri Vincent Lee, whose advertising conglomerate Foetus Group owns Ampersand Sports made the frank revelation that they have only entered into the deal because of their belief in Tunku Ismail's vision.
"So long as Tunku is the FAM president, we will support him. If he steps down, we will also withdraw from this agreement.
"As I had told Tunku, we were never interested in Malaysian football at all. But since he took over the presidency, we saw the leadership and his engagement with the public, and we decided we must get involved.
"Not because we want the money, nor because we are good in advertising and marketing, but because we want to contribute to the success and vision of Tunku," explained Vincent.
The press conference of the agreement signing ceremony between Ampersand Sports and FMLLP.