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Saturday October 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday October 5, 2013 MYT 9:13:18 AM
by randeep singh
Cheers for Cardiff: (from left) Iqram Dinzly, Fahrin Ahmad, Tan, Choo, Winnie Sin, Fizz Fairuz and Fizo Omar strike a pose during the event
THE financial backing of businessman Tan Sri Vincent Tan has proved immense for the Barclays Premier League side Cardiff City Football Club. The difference Tan’s financial backing has made to the Welsh outfit proved invaluable as fans of this so-called sleeping giant waited for more than half a century — 51 years to be exact — to make their way back into the top flight of English football.
With a sound financial standing, a squad hungry for success and a manager who has learned to deal with the pressures of the English game, the team has started positively in their debut this season in the Premiership.
Beating the likes of Manchester City, Fulham and narrowly losing to Tottenham Hotspurs have made heads turn and gone some way to prove the doubters that the team is here to stay — for the long haul in the EPL.
The Welsh team, being Malaysian-owned, has grown in popularity with local fans and is expected to multiply even further over the course of the coming months.
In conjunction with the team’s biggest game of the season, the visit of Manchester United at the Cardiff City Stadium on Nov 24, Rafflesia this week announced a sponsorship deal with four local celebrities to watch the match.
Actors Fahrin Ahmad, Fizo Omar, Iqram Dinzly and Fizz Fairuz have pledged their support to the Bluebirds in this eagerly anticipated match.
Present at the handing-over ceremony of the team’s jerseys to the celebrities were Tan, Rafflesia director Winnie Sin and husband Sin Cheang Loong, famed shoe designer Prof Datuk Dr Jimmy Choo and Star Publications (M) Bhd acting chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.
Sin said she was proud to be associated with Cardiff City, adding that being Malaysian-owned, the team had a special place in her heart.
“This a community-related project to give back to Malaysian football fans and to support the team. Seeing the word “MALAYSIA” on the team’s jersey makes me so happy,” she said.
“We will give the team our full backing and hope they do well this season. With the celebrities loyal support we hope that more Malaysians will come out and back the team in the pursuit of success,” she added.
According to a local source working closely with Cardiff, plans are afoot to form a Cardiff City Suppor-ters Club here in Malaysian with a view to growing the number of local fans backing the team.
Fans will soon be able to gather at different venues during matches to watch and lend their vocal support with a Malaysian flavour. Watch this space for more information on the fan club.
Fahrin, 34, an ardent fan of local football team Johor Darul Takzim, is also happy that a Malaysian-owned team is going great guns in the EPL.
“ I am an Arsenal fan but I always look out for Cardiff’s results. I am very proud of the fact that the club is Malaysian and to be honest I have taken Cardiff as my second team in England,” he said with a broad smile.
He could not hide his excitement at the prospect of watching Cardiff play defending EPL champions Man Utd.
“I can’t wait for the game, though United are struggling for form at the moment, they will still be a tough nut to crack,” he said.
Tan thanked Rafflesia and Choo for supporting the Cardiff cause and said he would like to see more Malaysians to come out and support the team.
“I have invested a lot financially in the team and hope that the club will remain in the top flight of English football for a very long time. We do not have the financial muscle of Real Madrid or Man Utd, but we have spent a lot of money this season to buy new players and strengthen the team in every position,” he said proudly.
He added that Tourism Ministry have also contributed to promote the team in line with Visit Malaysia 2014.
“With the power of advertising and the huge popularity of the EPL, the world now knows about Malaysia and I am absolutely delighted with the overwhelming show of support of the players, manager and the fans for the bright start that we have made in the league,” said Tan.
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