Temubual bersama Kevin Ramalingam mengenai FMLLP

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Temubual bersama Kevin Ramalingam mengenai FMLLP




What is Football Malaysia LLP?
It is a new vehicle to drive Malaysian football forward. Its main function is to run and operate the Malaysian Super League, Malaysian Premier League, Malaysian FA Cup, Malaysia Cup and Charity Cup, and commercialise them to achieve the greatest values possible in the long run.
How about MP & Silva? How do they fit into the picture?
MP & Silva’s role in the company is limited to the areas they are involved in. Football Malaysia LLP will undertake different partnerships in different areas, so we can, for instance, commercialise things and invest in infrastructure. In the case of MP & Silva, their involvement is limited to the broadcast and commercial rights of the five properties I mentioned earlier. They will not be involved with the five properties’ day-to-day operation, but we will always consider their input on how we can improve and benefit commercially.
When you were CEO at Kelantan, you aggressively looked for sponsorships, which has served them well until today. Can we expect the same drive from you in this new role?
Of course. I think one of the strong points of my appointment was probably my commercial strengths that I showed during my time at Kelantan. I will definitely look at areas to generate more income for the league, which in turn will give more money to the teams.
Speaking of Kelantan, are you worried that certain fans might accuse you of favouring your old team in the future?
I don’t think it is accurate to suggest that because it is like saying the CEO of Manchester United can never be the CEO of the Premier League. In my current role, some of the things that I definitely cannot influence are the game results and how much money Kelantan will get from future sponsorships. My role is to ensure that commercially the company is able to give back as much as it can to the teams, and grow the league in the years to come.
As for my previous involvement with Kelantan, I don’t see it as a chink in my armour. Rather, it is a proof that I can do my job. I hope the fans can see that I have been on the side of a football club and that I understand what that side needs. I hope they can see it is better than having someone with no football background at all.
Well, regardless of that, all eyes will be on your company and not the FAM anymore on what will happen to the M-League in the future. Judging from what the FAM has experienced over the past years, don’t you think it is too big of a task?
I was warned by His Highness Tengku Abdullah [President of the FAM] in a meeting before I was appointed that it is a high-profile position. However, I still took it because the opportunity was presented to me to make a difference in Malaysian football, and I will strive to achieve that. People have the right to criticise me, so all I need to do is to walk the walk instead of just talk to talk.

How many employees do you currently have in your company?
Officially, I am the only one in the office now. [Laughs] It will be sorted out soon, but one thing I will try not to do is to recruit people from football clubs. I have been tasked to strengthen the clubs and guide them to become technically strong and organised, so it will be wrong for me to rip talent from them. I should be empowering them, not weakening them. So, I will hire people outside football and find the right personnel. I already have a few candidates in mind to fill up the roles in the company, so I hope I can build a solid organisation.
Many people, including Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, have criticised the FAM for getting the lion’s share of money from the MP & Silva deal. What do you have to say about that?
Yes, it does look that way when you talk purely about the percentage – as it stands, the FAM and the teams will get 40% and 30% respectively – but it is not the case at all. It needs to be highlighted that the FAM’s portion is a decreasing percentage, while the clubs’ is an increasing percentage. Unlike the clubs, the FAM’s share of revenue does not multiply by many folds even with an increase of income in the future. It will most likely to stay the same or increase just slightly in the next few years.
Let’s say the income in our first year is RM100m; it means the FAM will get RM40m to balance out the expenses incurred by them. However, if we manage to get RM200m the following year, it does not mean that the FAM will get RM80m. If their total expenditure is just RM60m, they will only get that much, with the remaining going to the clubs. Basically, the more money and sponsorships we secure for the league, the more the clubs will earn and the lesser the FAM will earn.
Eventually the clubs will earn more than the FAM. It is very likely that in the future, when our income is at a certain level, the club may get 70% of the revenue, and we have plans to achieve that.

So there will be more money coming in for the league and the teams besides from MP & Silva?
Yes, the league’s income is not limited to what the MP & Silva deal will bring on board. It will be the major portion of it, but we will definitely have more lines of income in the future to pump into the league and help boost every team. Today we have a minimum of RM70m guaranteed to us thanks to MP & Silva, and that’s just the starting point. We have plans to grow the income beyond the minimum and not being reliant on MP & Silva. We are open to other forms of investment or partnership in other areas so that we reap more benefits in.
In any case, this matter along with other issues will be discussed in length in upcoming workshops organised by the FAM, Football Malaysia LLP and MP & Silva for the teams and media. I hope that everyone will have a better understanding of the revenue arrangement following the workshops.

Will we see the M-League undergo any drastic transformation under Football Malaysia LLP, such as an increase of the number of teams in the Malaysian Super League?
[About the Super League expansion] I am not going to say that it is impossible, but it will not happen so soon. It is easy to increase the number of teams, but we need to consider the effect it might have on the Malaysian Premier League. We need to ensure that the second division will remain competitive if we do explore the possibility of an expansion. Right now, our priority is to ensure the teams of both divisions are doing well in terms of performance, financial stability and technical organisation. Right now, we will work with what we have and make the best out of it.
I have also received a suggestion to merge the Malaysian FA Cup and Malaysia Cup together to create a single competition to reduce the number of games and avoid exhaustion over the course of a season. I can understand where the idea came from because I went through the same thing at Kelantan for three years. When you’re competing in an AFC tournament, the schedule is really tight and you have a game every three days. Kelantan and Selangor experienced that last year and now JDT and Pahang are experiencing it. It is not easy to cope with. Football Malaysia LLP is committed to do something about it because we want Malaysian teams to do well in AFC competitions. So, instead of merging both competitions, what we may look at is extending the length of the football season from, let’s say, eight months to 10, so that we don’t have to cram so many games into a short space of time.

As the new showrunner, what are Football Malaysia LLP’s short-term goals?
Our first and foremost objective is to ensure that the income that is distributed to the teams has an immediate increase in it. We need to ensure that the money gets down to them as quickly as possible because the teams are in need of funding to remain competitive.
On the technical side, we are looking at realigning our transfer windows. In the past few years, some teams have been very lucky to get good, quality import players that have performed fantastically, but there are also teams that are unable to choose from a bigger pool of talent available. It is not any of the teams’ fault in failing to sign good players; it is just that our transfer windows are currently not ideal to get the best import players to come. For example, if we realign our transfer windows with European football’s, I believe we can benefit from it and sign good players who are at the end of their contracts in June. Besides that, we want to do something about the scheduling of the fixtures – by making it less congested – and introduce a professional referees’ body.
(Pictures: Johanif Azman, Football Association of Malaysia, asiana.my)






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