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Malaysian Football League terminates TM deal, seeks new main partner

The Malaysian Football League, organising body of club football competitions in the country, is seeking a new main partner after agreeing to terminate its contract with telco Telekom Malaysia.

In February 2018, the MFL signed a major sponsorship and media rights deal with TM, an agreement it claimed was the biggest to date in domestic sport.

Under the agreement, TM’s unifi brand, which was formed to bring together the telco’s services, became title sponsor for the top-tier Liga Super and Piala Malaysia, as well as a co-sponsor for the latter’s fellow knockout tournament Piala FA.

As the broadcast partner, unifi TV showcased all MFL events and competitions, which include the Piala Sumbangsih, Liga Super, Piala Malaysia and Piala FA, as well as provided conditional broadcast benefits for the Liga Premier, Challenge Cup and all other matches.

The eight-year deal took effect from 2018 and was scheduled to run until 2025. It was reported to be worth RM480m (€103.6m/$117.7m), but Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times said TM failed to meet its RM60m annual obligation before the new Liga Super season kicked off on February 1, despite several reminders.

In a statement, MFL chairman Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim said: “I have directed the CEO of MFL to hold official discussions with interested parties immediately. Earlier we received unofficial inquiries when we heard rumours that TM did not want to continue the Liga Malaysia sponsorship but we always respected the contract with TM.

“As we have announced earlier, we have always been a good partner to TM and wanted to give them time to solve the problems they face. In addition, MFL has made many attempts to hold talks with TM but the move has come to a dead end. So MFL cannot wait any longer because we have the responsibility to manage the Malaysian League.

“To be honest I’m disappointed with TM’s actions and we can see that there has been a drastic change in MFL’s contractual deal starting in May last year. I myself did not expect TM to do this to Malaysian football.

“We know maybe the government or TM has other priorities but they cannot let the number one national sport that unites the country suffer because of this action. This is what happens when sports are politicised.”