MFL: Past Leadership to blame, says Winnie the Pooh

Was the “old regime “ leading Malaysian Football League to blame for the lack of sponsors ?

Was it poor leadership that attributed towards the pulling out of the lucrative Telekom Malaysia deal of RM60 million per year two years ago?

These questions are being posed after an interview with the Chief Commercial Officer of the MFL Winnie Chan was published.

For those who may not know, Winnie joined MFL when TMJ was the chairman, having worked with Dentsu ( ironically a sports marketing company which was once headed by Stuart Ramalingam, the current Secretary General of FAM and brother to the then MFL Chief Executive Officer Kevin Ramalingam)

“ One of the executives leading the MFL’s recovery this season is Winnie Chan, its chief commercial officer. She spoke to SportBusiness about the challenges the league has faced, and the action it is taking to overcome them. Among the challenges – weaning Malaysia’s passionate fanbase off a diet of free streams, and getting clubs to comply with a new ‘economic control programme’, modelled on LaLiga’s.”

We will now take excerpts of the interview published and see where the bullets fired were aimed towards in order to establish truths from fiction.

Question:

It’s been a tough couple of cycles for the Malaysian Football League’s commercial rights sales. How positive a development is the new TM deal?

Winnie Chan:

It’s positive because we’ve got Telekom Malaysia involved both as a broadcast platform as well as a sponsor. It is a good deal in the sense that fans can watch on both pay-TV and on OTT…Also in the fact that TM’s mobile, broadband and TV businesses will activate their sponsorships in ways that will enhance fans’ experiences, on and off match days

Truth

There have been end user issues with the mobile platform and this was brought up to MFL and TM. However after four match days, the problem still persists and no form of apology or statement has been issued by TM or MFL. Care to tell the public the truth Winnie?

Question:

Last year, TM walked out on its previous deal. What happened between now and then to persuade them to come back? 

Winnie Chan:

I think it’s safe to say we learned a lot from what happened. Both parties decided to relook at the situation and make football the centre of their attention. We decided to put the past behind us, learn from the mistakes, and move on from there. We took a little longer to negotiate the best deal for both parties and we arrived at a mutually agreed situation.

Truth:

Was it not because MFL were forced to withdraw the court case and this was a pre-condition before they actually decided to sit down and talk to MFL? Was it not Dato Hamidin who had to re-ignite this deal no thanks to the incompetence of MFL that caused the deal to collapse in the first place? Was it not your department that failed to look into the deliverables in the initial contract? Let’s have the truth by unveiling the termination letter from TM outlining reasons for pullout?

Winnie Chan:

When our new president came in [Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin], he looked at what had been done before and how to improve on that. He already had a relationship with TM via [his role as president of the] Football Association of Malaysia. He thought there was something we could do, so he talked to them. The attitude was: ‘The past is the past, it was led by different people. Now we’ve got new leaders so let’s see if there’s anything we can do to solve this’.

Truth:

By saying it is led by different people, are you implying that the problem was with the leadership of TMJ? Since there is not much change in MFL, the significant thing being TMJ’s departure, clearly you have implied that he was to blame.

Everyone out there knows it was undue “ political pressure” that led to the plug being pulled and MFL left doors ajar for TM to exploit and justify the pull out. Is this Nor a failure from the Commercial Team of MFL? So why blame leadership?

Question

What lessons did you learn from the collapse of the previous deals?

Winnie Chan:

Now, we’ve changed that. We have three competition title sponsors – CIMB for Liga Super, Shopee for the FA Cup and TM for Piala Malaysia (the Malaysia Cup). We’re basically making sure that we don’t make the same mistake, putting too many eggs in too few baskets.

Truth:

TM returning was a out of court settlement and nothing to do with her assumption of a new marketing plan. As for Shoppee they have been on board even before she was employed. And it was Amperson Sports that brought in CIMB. So kindly disclose any great money deals that the MFL Commercial Team actually delivered in the past 18 months since new leadership assumed?

Rather then make this a boring affair, let’s just ask Winnie one question – is she one of the 39 people who votes in the FAM President?

Is she part of the MFL stakeholders that own the league?

Anyone resting this interview will know it’s an attempt to boost ones own image or rather a boost to a resume in order to move to a greener pasture!

So Dato Hamidin, you need to decide, correct this fallacy of your right hand person of blaming the past regime or face the flak of TMJ.

One thing is certain though, without TMJ, you guys would not be where you are today.

And that’s the bitter truth, swallow it either way.