KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 ― Malaysian tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan purportedly prefers players with the number 8 in their birthdates for the Cardiff City British football club he owns, a UK journalist alleged today.
The number 8 is considered auspicious in Chinese culture, and the preference has baffled the UK media which has followed the colourful billionaire, ranked by Forbes as Malaysia’s ninth richest man.
“I think he was very keen on players with the number 8 in their birthdate. It’s a lucky number. So if you were born on August 8, 1988, you’d be a Cardiff regular... Crazy,” Charlie Wyett, a journalist from UK’s tabloid The Sun said in a football show on the UK's Sky Sports channel.
However, there are currently only three players in the team’s line-up who were born on August ― the eight month in the Gregorian calendar ― including a new signing, defensive midfielder Gary Medel from Spanish club Sevilla FC.
There are also two players who were born in 1988, and another two with the number 8 in their birthday.
This revelation came amid the football club’s animosity after Tan sacked Malky Mackay, the very coach that helped push Cardiff to the Barclay’s Premier League for the first time in the club’s history.
The New York Times (NYT) reported yesterday that Tan was practically booed out of the stadium last Saturday when Cardiff City played against Sunderland in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw, despite the team having the home advantage.
In a critique of wealthy businessmen who have sought to expand their to the pitch, Tan was reminded that for all his money, he would do better to leave the running of his club alone than to revert to his boardroom instincts and incur greater wrath from the sport’s aficionados.
Four days ago another American newspaper USA Today named Tan as the “worst owner in sports” for his controversial handling of the English Premier League side.
In an article published on its website, the newspaper noted that while dislike for team owners was not uncommon among sports fans, Tan’s unorthodox handling of the club he purchased in 2010 had drawn rare animosity among the club’s supporters.
The club gained promotion into the elite league under the Berjaya tycoon last season, but Tan has also controversially swapped the team’s colours from blue to red and changed its badge from the bluebird, after which the team are nicknamed, to a dragon.
But USA Today said that Tan’s latest fancy — changing the club’s name from Cardiff City FC to Cardiff Dragons — may be the straw that breaks the camels’ back.
Beyond the changes, Tan’s alleged interference in the management and club affairs such as the sacking of Cardiff’s lead scout Iain Moody and an earlier ultimatum for manager Malky Mackay to quit the club or be fired has also reportedly infuriated fans.
Cardiff were on the brink of administration and escaped a winding-up petition at the High Court in 2010 after settling a £1.9 million (RM9.5 million) tax bill shortly after Tan took ownership of the club.