- Published on Monday, 20 March 2017 18:06
Several State Football Associations such as Selangor, Kelantan and Perlis have previously threatened to withdraw from joining the M-League 2017 season following certain issues involving funds to support the teams’ expenses.
Apart from needing the expertise of players to ensure a football team is able to continue competing, robust funds and financial standings that do not only rely on sponsorships are very important to ensure the longevity of a football team.
And because of the changing of times, Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim has proven that his influence and stable financial standings have put the Southern Tigers club far ahead of other teams, apart from the quality of players to coaches, right up to the football stadium facilities – that allowed him to become the favourite candidate for the Football Association Malaysia (FAM) presidency.
Former Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in his latest blog entry on The ZaidGeist today admitted that Malaysian football can only be developed by 'billionaire' individuals like Tunku Ismail.
"In this day and age, football can only be developed by a billionaire like TMJ who has an eager passion and does not think about profit making.
"Look at how Roman Abramovich developed Chelsea and how King Power International’s Thai owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha has brought Leicester City (bottom tiered team in the English league) to the peak of football fame now," Zaid wrote in the entry.
Tunku Ismail's wealth was exposed in a previous media report that stated the 32-year-old Crown Prince achieved the status of millionaire in his early 30s and was able to be on par with the 50 richest people in Malaysia listed by Forbes in 2014.
Apart from that, Tunku Ismail himself never denied his wealth that allowed him to propel JDT to a comfortable position and according to him, the wealth is from oil palm estates and shares in companies that invest in Johor.
"Unlike me, I'm transparent. My money comes from oil palm estates and my shares in companies invested in Johor. I have no secrets," he said in a statement on Johor Southern Tigers Facebook page responding to accusations that he likes to show his money.
However, Zaid regards Tunku Ismail's determination and love towards football as well as wanting to see the sports that Malaysians love change for the better is regarded as the main factor why he should helm FAM and compete for the position.
"Tan Sri Annuar Musa is also rich, but I do not believe that he is willing to spend his own money to solve the many problems in national football. Only a billionaire who loves football would be willing to do it.
"In addition, Tan Sri Annuar as UMNO information chief has other duties that are more important for the party. Taking care of and developing national football needs to be handed to someone with a lighter workload; and that is why an individual like TMJ is suitable; not to a politician," Zaid added.
But for the individual named Tunku Ismail, who has successfully carved history after helming JDT such as becoming the Malaysia Super League champion for 2015 and 2016; Malaysia FA Cup champion (2016); as well as emerging as the first Asian team to win the Asian Confederation Cup (AFC) – he actually does not need the position as FAM president with all the wealth that he has now.
His wealth that encompasses numerous posh cars and swanky boats that line the driveway of his villa at the Istana Bukit Pelangi, allows Tunku Ismail to enjoy his life without being directly involved in football.
But due to his sense of responsibility and love, Tunku Ismail is determined to change the landscape of Malaysian football.
"Football gives them a chance to boast that they are Johoreans. It's a very powerful tool, (able to unite) any religion, any race, even age group," Tunku Ismail said according to The Straits Times report.
"With my position and what I have, I can be anywhere in the world right now. I can be in Cuba probably having fun. Just relax, being in Barbados. But (serving the people) is what I was born to do," he added.
Moreover, during his meeting with football fans in Kuala Lumpur last month, Tunku Ismail admitted that he is more comfortable being in Johor and leading JDT, compared to competing for the 'hot seat' of the national body.
“I’ve taken up this challenge because I listened to the voices of the people, the affiliates, and my father… and because of my fear that football will fall into the wrong hands.
“I’m here not because I want to be here. I’m here because a thought crossed my mind. I told myself, for 31 years, local football fans, including myself, have wanted to see a change. What would happen if football falls into the hands of the wrong person? We’re done for…and we have another 30 years. By then I will be in my 60s," Tunku Ismail said when presenting his main mission should he win the FAM presidency.
Meanwhile, for FAM Vice President candidate Datuk Rosmadi Ismail, he believes that both FAM president candidates, Tunku Ismail and Annuar Musa have their own strengths if they are given the responsibility to lead the national body.
"I believe that these two individuals have their own strengths, Tan Sri Annuar if we look back has brought Kelantan from 'zero' to a team feared by others.
"The same can be said about TMJ, who brought changes to JDT to become the club that it is now, in their own league, being looked up to by other teams.
"If it is possible, we want to see Annuar and TMJ together in FAM. We do not want one of them not in the new management of the football national body," he said to Utusan Online yesterday.
However, predictions are only just that, and everything will be decided on March 25. So, we will just have to wait and see who is chosen as the new FAM president.