KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Cardiff City owner Tan Sri Vincent Tan is slowly but surely changing the perception of Malaysian involvement in the English football league, but he seems to have hit a bad patch that could undermine the reputation of Malaysians.
However, after Queens Park Rangers, owned by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, were demoted from the Premier League last season and the nightmarish stint of former Kuala Lumpur national defender Serbegeth Singh as the global adviser for Blackburn Rovers, has Tan become a victim of perception?
Are Malaysians being branded as failures in English football?
Tan saw Cardiff City earn promotion to the Premier League for the first time in 51 years. In fact, the Welsh club were sitting above Manchester United last week and looked set for better times this season.
But all that has been torn to shreds with news undermining Tan’s contribution to the team.
He has made changes at Cardiff, the biggest of which was changing their kit colour from blue to red, which he deemed a lucky colour. He also amended the club crest, swapping the traditional Bluebird for a Welsh dragon. Last season, a name change was mooted — to Cardiff Dragons — the name of an amateur team in the city.
Despite bankrolling promotions and signings, the fans seemed to be against Tan’s every move.
Last week, there was a breakdown in communication between Tan and the senior members of Malky Mackay’s squad with the angry players wanting to bar him from having any involvement with the first team on match days.
The anger was due to Tan’s refusal to fork out a seven-figure sum for the players’ end-of-the-season bonuses.
The latest conflict arose after Tan replaced his head of recruitment Iain Moody with 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Aspalyamov. Mackay is said to be shocked and disappointed at the suspension of the club’s former press officer.
Will the current situation force Tan to pull out of Cardiff?
He has done well so far despite having made unpopular decisions. Shouldn’t he be given the opportunity to see his plans for the club through?
Replacing Moody with Aspalyamov, who has admitted that he does not have any footballing experience, may be seen as interference in the management of the team, but Tan is known for his shrewd decisions, be it in business or sport, and he has been successful so far.
Maybe Tan has something up his sleeves that will add a new dimension to Cardiff.
While Cardiff fans and even the players are up in arms, maybe they should give him the benefit of the doubt.
Diehard football fans would probably disagree and say that Tan should stick to what he knows best — business — and leave football to the experts.
But has Tan been unfairly judged in England simply because he is a Malaysian? Can he weather the storm?
Malaysians, whether or not they like Cardiff, will surely take a special interest in the team and Tan’s next move in the club, especially with a big question mark over the future of Mackay?
He is full of surprises and for now, Cardiff have the attention of the Malaysians, what with them promoting “Malaysia” on the front of their jerseys.