The devil is in the detail

28 02 2013

This morning an article was released

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan open to name change

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has said that promotion to the Premier League could trigger further “rebranding” and did not rule out changing the club’s name to Cardiff Dragons.

The Malaysian billionaire has already insisted upon a colour change from blue to red, as well as a new club crest.

“We will think about it when we know the final result of this season,” he said about using Cardiff Dragons. “Then we will think what’s the best way to brand it.”

Tan acknowledged the “rumours” that have recently emerged over the use of Cardiff Dragons but added: “We haven’t discussed this. I’ve not really thought about this in detail. But when we get there we’ll make a decision. And when we make a decision we will convey it to everyone.”

Tan, who has an estimated wealth of $1.3bn, wants Cardiff to maximise all possible revenue and marketing opportunities in Asia. After buying more than 35% of the club’s shares for £6m in 2010, the 61-year-old Malaysian threatened to withdraw his support in June unless the club agreed to ditch its traditional blue home shirts in favour of red ones. The new colours were accepted, so too a new badge as a Welsh dragon replaced the bluebird, and further investment followed.

In an interview with BBC Wales’ Sport Wales programme, he justified the “controversial decision” of the club’s colours, and stressed he is prepared to and intends to make more changes.

“A few were upset but like in any business if we get 80% or 75% of the customers happy, with 20-25% not happy, that’s fine,” he said. “If they don’t want to come to support our business, that’s fine. We need the majority.” He added: “I believe the change is for the better. And if you put in a lot of money, surely you have the right to make a call on some things you believe will make it better. If you don’t have a say, why the hell do you want to put in so much money?”

After years of financial instability, Cardiff were on the brink of administration before Tan’s takeover as part of a Malaysian consortium. The club continues to struggle financially, recording losses of £13.6m in the year up to the end of May 2012, with an overall recorded debt of £83.1m.

The accounts also show that the debt to Langston, the company represented by ex-City owner Sam Hammam, is put at £19.2m, with a one-off payment of £5m due if City reach the Premier League while the debt is outstanding. Tan said that resolving this debt is a priority for the club, and again called on Langston to renegotiate to a “fair level” and then convert the “unsecured” loan into equity. If that happens, Tan said he is willing to turn the £63m loan he has given to the club into equity. “Their loan is not secured,” he said. “If anything happens to the club, Langston will get nothing. So I will convert [my loan] if we can resolve with Langston. And if Sam Hammam loves Cardiff as he claims he does, he should come and sit down and then we’ll find a solution.”

Having failed in the Championship play-offs three years in a row, Cardiff are in a stronger position than ever to reach the Premier League. They have an eight-point lead with 13 games remaining, but Tan said he would not walk away if promotion was not secured.

“If the fans welcome me, I can stay for a long time,” he said, promising a further £25m to manager Malky Mackay for new players should they go up. “But if I find they are not welcoming and rude, then maybe I will find a new buyer and go off. But if I were to sell, I’d make sure I would leave it in good hands.”

A section of Cardiff fans continue to oppose Tan’s colour change. A protest was held at the end of the last home game to Brighton – which Tan attended – when free red scarves were handed out. Tan referred to the dissenting voices as “a bunch of mostly young kids” and argued a change was long overdue.

“Have they achieved any success under this bluebirds brand?,” he asked “So why do we hold onto something that hasn’t achieved much success?”

Another article was published at 13:40

“The Malaysian owner of Cardiff City has spoken publicly for the first time about how he plans to turn the club into a force in Asia. In an exclusive interview with BBC Wales, Vincent Tan says he will spend up to £25m on new players if City makes it to the Premier League, and defended the controversial re-brand which saw the shirt colours change from blue to red. I travelled to Kuala Lumpur where I was given behind the scenes access to one of the richest men in Malaysia. Tan made his first break when he introduced McDonald’s to Malaysia in the 1980s.

A few years later he bought the country’s main lottery, which remains the cash cow of his diverse business empire. His group, which is called Berjaya, also has interests in insurance, pharmacy and property. One of its projects is building what it claims will be the world’s largest indoor shopping centre on the outskirts of Beijing called the Great Mall of China. His investments in Cardiff have come from his private wealth.

He first put in £6m at the club after being asked by his friend Dato Chan Tien Ghee, the current chairman of Cardiff City, around three years ago. Initially he was in the background as an investor but after loaning the club more than £30m, he decided to play a far more active role when he saw Cardiff lose in the Championship play-offs at the end of last season. His first move was to carry out the controversial re-brand in an attempt to gain popularity in Asia.

He said: “You look at Man United and Liverpool and they are red – they are much more successful and have a bigger fan base than Chelsea or Manchester City.In Asia, red is the colour of joy, red is the colour of festivities and of celebration. In Chinese culture, blue is the colour of mourning. Of course it is not easy to compete with Man United or even Liverpool because they have a big fan base and they have been around so long and have won so many trophies. So far it looks tough but not impossible. So I would like to tell the fans we are doing a good job so give us all the support and have faith that we will do the right thing.

“Why would I want to do stupid things and put in, maybe by the end of the season, £70m in loans and investments into Cardiff and do stupid things? Do I look stupid? No. We want to do what is good for Cardiff and for the long-term survival, and hopefully Cardiff can be around for a long time and, God willing, be around in the Premier League.”

He has not ruled out carrying out further re-brands if the club, which is currently top of the Championship, is promoted to the Premier League, but he says he has not discussed it at any length.

He also spoke openly about the possibility of renaming the Cardiff City Stadium, with the name Malaysia being added or the name of a major Asian sponsor. But the naming rights of the stadium are wrapped up in an historic debt of £19m owed to a company called Langston which is connected to the former chairman Sam Hammam. The club’s last set of accounts show it has debts of £83m. Much of that is owed to Vincent Tan which he says he will convert to shares but will only do so once the Langston debt is dealt with. He says he will offer the former chairman a combination of shares and money to pay off the debt and will even offer him a place on the board.

He said: “If Sam Hammam loves Cardiff City like he claims he does, he should come and sit down and convert his debt into equity to show his commitment. I think it’s too sensitive to talk about the details but the principle is we’d like Sam Hammam to come and resolve this, and this is for the good of Cardiff. After all, if I had not come along and put in money, Sam Hammam would have had nothing and the club would have gone into administration. If I was Sam Hammam I would be grateful to someone who has put in so much money.”

Tan says he has caught the football bug and often travels to the UK in his private jet to watch matches. He says he has a good relationship with the manager Malky Mackay and enjoys going into the dressing room to speak to the players, particularly Craig Bellamy. His son Robin and a number of his senior managers told me they all questioned his decision to buy into a football club, but say when he makes investments he usually does so for the long term.

Tan said: “If the fans welcome me and everybody welcomes me, I can stay a long time, but if I find they are not welcoming and are rude then I may find a new buyer and go off. But I want to say this, if I have to leave then I will leave it in good shape.”

At 4:20 a statement was released;

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan issues statement on name change fears

“Following the angry response from supporters, he said in a statement on  Thursday afternoon: “I can assure all supporters that we will not be changing  our name from Cardiff City Football Club, a club I am very proud to be a part  of.

“Our name is our identity and remains at our core. I would not want any of  our supporters to be concerned that this change would be made, hoping that this  personal commitment from myself removes any fears.

“I believe the colour change is positive and will bring good tidings to  Cardiff City Football Club. At this point of time, no decision has been made to  change the club crest for the next season.

“For the present day, all I would ask is that we all join together,  continuing your excellent support at what is a critical juncture in our  season.

“Our collective aim is to back Malky Mackay and his team as they work hard to  bring us all success. Working together we can achieve great things in the name  of Cardiff City Football Club.”

First came the boasts, then the threats (“That Tan’s ruining our club”), then the reassurance (“It’s Red or Dead and we’ll need his money to get to the premier league”).

In his mind Tan probably thinks he’s acting like normal businessman and to be fair to the lad he is. He’s blundering around like an egotistical cunt on a power trip – “Have they achieved any success under this bluebirds brand?,” he asked “So why do we hold onto something that hasn’t achieved much success?”

He’s also acting like a cuntish politician that wants to achieve an unpalatable goal; taking piecemeal steps. First the shirts, then the badge, then the name, then the ground moves closer to Heathrow, then the home games in Malaysia. Although the last two steps were probably gallows humour from the ex-Cardiff fans I know.

This morning a few of those ex-Cardiff fans felt that the name change headline grabber could be a politician-style ruse to encourage panic in order to achieve something that looks or feels less confrontational. The bold line from the statement points to this  – “At this point of time, no decision has been made to change the club crest for the next season.”

If you look at from this direction Tan can accomplish several things with a single decision; a panic would be eased (people will forget it’s a cynically created panic), Tan would look like less of an ogre and most importantly, Tan would get what he wants as his real aim would have been achieved. Rather cleverly by making the decision Tan would also be closer to the endgoal he wants – turning Cardiff City into The Cardiff Dragons – because he will have normalised the situation he’s created, people will then be ready for the next step.

From one direction it’s nice to get a glimpse of the clearheaded egotism that motivates your modern club owner.

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