Money and Malaysian club football: What are the real costs involved?

The financial constraints in Malaysian football have left a number of clubs clinging to survival in recent months. So what are the real costs involved? Here a former Football Association of Malaysia staff member details the expense associated with fielding a team in 2017...

In recent weeks, Selangor, Kelantan and Perlis have all made public the fact they had entertained the possibility of pulling out of the 2017 Malaysia Super League (MSL) and Premier League (MPL) competitions.

The costs of participation in today’s MSL and MPL far outweigh the benefits, at least from a commercial point of view

While this may come as a surprise to outsiders, those who have had the experience of running a team would know only too well the reasons why.

The costs of participation in today’s MSL and MPL far outweigh the benefits, at least from a commercial point of view.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa managed to rescue Kelantan with a RM3 million cash injection, but he stated it was only to kick-start the season and that Red Warriors required at least another RM10 million to be able to participate till the end of 2017.

Selangor fans admirably tried to rally together and raise RM15 million by asking 15,000 fans to invest RM1,000 each and buy into a proposed fan-owned structure that would have been a great achievement and a big step forward for Malaysian football.

From these two examples, we can deduce that to operate within the MSL, a team’s expenditure is between RM12-15 million per season.

Average club expenditure for MSL teams*

* table is based on research and information obtained from various sources within the Malaysian football fraternity. Note it is an estimation and clubs could be operating on more or less than this.

The obvious question is – why is the cost of participation so high? If one were to zoom into the expenditure of an average MSL club, a simplistic breakdown on average would be well represented by the following table:

From the estimated numbers above, clubs need roughly RM13 Million per year. Are they able to generate that amount of money? Let’s look at the typical contributors to a club’s revenue:  

1. TV revenue – RM1 Million

With the advent of privatisation via the Football Malaysia Limited Liability Partnership (FMLLP), MSL clubs have been promised RM1 million in income from shared TV rights and additional bonuses based on where they end the season.

2. Ticket revenue – RM 1.98 Million

Commercially established clubs like Johor Darul Ta’zim and Kedah can achieve an attendance of 30-40,000 spectators at a single game, while the smaller clubs can expect between 5,000 and 20,000 depending on their stadium capacity.

For argument’s sake, let’s take 15,000 average spectators throughout the league season. Tickets generally sell for between RM10 and RM30, so using an average of RM20, we come to an income of RM300,000 per game. Multiplied by 11 home games per season, that equates to an overall revenue of 3.3 Million.

[NEXT: Continued over page with the reality of club merchandise]