PETALING JAYA: Datuk Ananth S. Nathan, who has undertaken a leading investment in AFC Wimbledon, has big plans for the founding English Premier League club.
Ananth has become the second largest individual shareholder of AFC Wimbledon and one of a select few Asian owners of a European football club.
Ananth, who is also the president of the Malaysian Esports Federation (MESF) and pioneer of the esports community in South-East Asia, also assumes a new role as international president for AFC Wimbledon.
His ambition is to combine his unique Asian perspective and connections, and his extensive esports experience to build on the Dons’ remarkable legacy and passionate fanbase.
Alongside revitalised business foundations in his successful AIRMARINE, an international integrated logistics and supply chain business, Ananth believes he is positioned to help inspire an exciting new future for AFC Wimbledon.
There are also bold plans to have the Dons play against national teams of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and other nations of the region, as well as develop a Wimbledon Academy in Asia to help build player depth and experience across the club and national team.
Ananth also has plans to build a local clubhouse where people can watch the game live together.
Beyond the traditional roots of a shared gameday experience, Ananth also has a vision to potentially establish the famous Plough Lane Stadium as a leading home of esports, building on the huge growth of this innovative industry.
A very unique aspect of Ananth’s investment is that he has never seen the AFC Wimbledon team play live. In 2002, the Dons were controversially severed from their community by the decision of a Football Association commission.
The club were relocated 70 miles from their home and repositioned under a new name and ownership.
On why he decided to invest in the club, Ananth said: “The strong community spirit on the revival of the club was an important catalyst of this investment.
“It never crossed my mind as an investment, I did it because I love football and the romantic history of the club. When I went through the museum here at Plough Lane, I had goosebumps.
“That’s the effect I want to create in Malaysia. So, when the opportunity came, I had to put my name in.”