No football club can ever dream of being successful without the support of local fans and investors, even those in Malaysia.
The Malaysian club in the middle of rebuilding, Selangor are thankful to have the support of both parties during the Covid-19 pandemic, said its secretary-general Johan Kamal Hamidon to Goal earlier this week.
Around two months ago, when it was rumoured that the 2020 Malaysian league may resume behind closed doors (a rumour that has since been confirmed), the Red Giants' 2020 season pass owners went onto social media to voice their willingness to forgo a possible refund, in order to let their team keep the money.
Just last week, it was revealed that their ultras group of fans, the Ultrasel, have gone even further; by contributing RM10,000 (around USD2,500) to participate as a micro-sponsor of the club this year, under its 'Local Giants' programme.
These acts of benevolence did not go unnoticed by Johan.
"We're very grateful to have fans who are very supportive, as it's a strong sign that they have confidence and trust in us, and that they want to do as much as they can to help the club achieve its ambitions.
"Despite the poor current economic situation, the fans are willing to 'let go' of the passes that they have bought without us asking for it. This shows that they're happy with what the board is doing. These are encouraging signs, but we don't want to take them for granted. The way we see it, we have to do more," he explained in a telephone conversation.
Johan Kamal. Photo by Zulhilmi Zainal
Johan also provided more details on its Local Giants programme, which allows smaller businesses and companies to enter into small-scale sponsorship deals with the club.
Apart from the RM10,000 deal taken up by their ultras, the programme also offers one other, higher-tier package with an RM20,000 buy-in fee. In return, the participating businesses receive tax exemption benefits, matchday branding opportunities, and free match tickets.
"I'm not quite sure of the exact number [of participating companies], it's between 30 to 40, with a total revenue of between RM600,000 to RM700,000. We learnt about it from Japanese club Fagiano Okayama (Malaysia U-23 striker Hadi Fayyadh's team) who visited us in 2019. Their programme sees around 700 participants!
"There are a lot of companies out there who are very passionate supporters of Selangor, but are not able to sponsor us in the hundred thousands and millions. So it makes sense for us to still give them the opportunity to be a part of our journey with the Local Giants programme.
"For the first year of its implementation, the reception has been encouraging. We were looking for 50 to 100 participants, so what we do have now is not far behind. Seeing a fan group taking part is also a bonus, and we hope to see more fans taking part in the club in the future.
"But the economy is expected to be tougher next year due to the pandemic, which in turn is expected to make securing sponsorships and growing the number of participants tougher. Hopefully, next year we will get to equal the number of Local Giants as this year's," said the association official.