PETALING JAYA: The glory days of the Malaysian football league may perhaps be on the way back after pay-TV operators Astro have agreed to pump in RM120mil to the FA of Malaysia (FAM).
The sponsorship, which will run from this year until 2014, will see Astro injecting RM30mil annually to the league in return for broadcasting rights to all matches in the Super League, Premier League and the FAM League.
They will also hold broadcast rights to the Malaysia Cup, the FA Cup and the President’s Cup competitions.
The FAM deputy president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, said that Astro were chosen over another bidders because they had the means and the expertise to promote and market the league to another level.
“However, this does not mean that Astro will be the title sponsors for the M-League. Other corporations are welcome to bid as title sponsors through Astro,” he said after an FAM exco meeting yesterday.
The RM30mil-a-year sponsorship was indeed a bonanza for the league as the last time they saw a similar amount of funding was between 1989 and 2002 when they had the backing of cigarette company Dunhill.
After the ban on cigarette companies in sports, Telekom Malaysia (TM) took over as title sponsors from mid-2002 with about RM9mil annually. Their contract with the FAM expires on Jan 26.
With the role as title sponsors still open, more money could be pouring in and this will translate into a better future for the national football league.
It is understood that telco Maxis are the frontrunners to be the title sponsors for the M-League.
For the coming season, teams can also secure their own sponsors and have them emblazoned across their team jersey, unlike previous years where it was specially reserved for the league’s title sponsors.
“The deal with Astro will be a platform for commercialising the league and I hope this will mark a new beginning for the FAM and Malaysian football,” said Tengku Abdullah.
However, Astro do not hold rights to matches involving national teams (senior, Under-23 and Under-21) and they will be broadcast partners.
The FAM deputy president, Tan Sri Annuar Musa, said another highlight of the deal with Astro was enabling fans to follow league matches on the internet as they also hold rights to new media platform.
“This is something that we could not do before even though we knew there was demand for it,” said Annuar.
On another note, Annuar said that Astro were also ready to commit an additional RM100mil for promotional activities until 2014.
“This is part of the process of revamping the league that we talked about before. Changes to the league will be implemented gradually and hopefully we will see the results in another two or three years,” he said.
Annuar said that with Astro’s involvement, the FAM could now focus more on their affiliates – teams in the leagues in terms of management and operational matters.
“When we, as the national body, are moving forward, we have to make sure our affiliates are not left behind,” he said.
“We will have more time now to help them manage, market their teams and other issues pertaining to operations.