Vincent Tan puts Malaysia on map

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MANAGER'S SACKING: Despite the uproar over his 'meddling', he has undoubtedly increased nation's presence in football

LOOKS like everyone is laughing at Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Malaysian tycoon and owner of English Premier League football club Cardiff City.

It appears that he's the butt of football jokes in the English Premier League (EPL). What does a businessman like Tan know about running a football club? So says everyone.

The sacking of manager Malky Mackay has put VT, as the tycoon is referred to in some places, on the world football map. I'm quite sure VT is now another recognisable face among footballers, coaches and fans.

It is the same with another Tan Sri, a certain Tony Fernandes, whose involvement with Queens Park Rangers propelled him on the football scene at the EPL, too. Fernandes' involvement in Formula 1 racing has also widened his networking map.

Back to VT. The episode involving Mackay has led to much debate in EPL circles. The conclusion is simple and direct -- the Tan Sri should just leave the footballing side to the managers and staff to handle. He should just stand and observe. Do not interfere with the footballing side, he's told.

They have a point, of course. While Cardiff is not Liverpool or Arsenal or Chelsea, it is a club with loyal supporters. Any interference by anyone other than those directly tasked with managing the footballing side would not be welcomed.

I believe therein lies the difference between VT and other owners; between a hands-on owner and the management. Owners at other clubs may have interfered in the running of their clubs, too, but are not getting similar attention as VT.

Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, the Glazers at Manchester United and other foreign owners at other clubs must have voiced out their opinions and made demands on the management, too. But, they didn't seem to get the kind of attention that VT is getting.

VT may have a different approach to things. He may not fully subscribe to the delineation of power between owner and management. Or perhaps, it is the manner in which it's done that may have triggered such uproar among footballing circles in the EPL.

But one thing is quite clear -- he's made more people aware of Malaysia, especially after putting the country's name on the team jersey. You may argue that VT was unnecessarily aggressive in handling the situation, but that's for him and the management to sort out.

But putting the country's name on the team jersey was certainly a positive move. It may take years or forever for Cardiff the football club to be in the top four of the EPL, but I'm sure VT would not want to spend good money in a losing business.

Perhaps VT is already aware that he now has a bigger responsibility, having put the country's name on his product.

One must take off one's hat to individuals like VT and Fernandes, at least in so far as crossing the borders and venturing into new areas hitherto unknown to them. They are not without detractors, but in their own way, they have put Malaysia on the world entrepreneurship map.

Good luck both of you!

Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s decision to put the country’s name on Cardiff City’s jersey has made people more aware of Malaysia.


Ahmad A. Talib is Media Prima executive director of news and editorial

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