Experts outline restructuring of Indonesian football

Assuming that each member of Indonesia's 96-million-person workforce spends Rp 3,500 (40 US cents) per week on entertainment ... that's Rp 336 billion. And if much of the workforce consider football their main form of entertainment, imagine how much money could made from the domestic Premier League. That calculation is part of a formula developed by Hasani Abdulgani, President Director of Mahaka Sports. "Football has a huge potential market value. It is part of the showbiz enterprise and therefore it should be profitable," he told a sports seminar on national football in Jakarta.

Even professional football clubs in Indonesia have long relied on financial assistance from provincial, municipal and regency budgets. Only a few have sponsorship deals with companies. With the Central Government's plan to implement regulation prohibiting provincial, municipal and regency administrations from directly channeling money to professional clubs, their sustainability is in question. "The enforcement of the regulation will force club managements to be financially independent and we have to be ready now before the government imposes it next year," Hasani said.

Persikota Tangerang patron and mayor Wahidin Halim saw a bleak future for clubs without the financial help. "We can't charge spectators here in Indonesia. They want to watch football matches) but they don't want to pay. I'm pessimistic that clubs can survive once the regulation is implemented," he said as quoted by Primastuti Handayani of the Jakarta Post. He added that income from tickets was only enough to pay security. "It's also difficult to have sponsors. Moreover, club operational costs have skyrocketed up to 300 percent compared to two years ago."

Mahaka Satria Muda basketball team owner Erick Thohir shared his experience in running the club. "Having home-and-away matches like in soccer will definitely generate big bucks. Whenever we host a final match at our base camp in Kelapa Gading, we can earn about Rp 200 million just from tickets for that particular game," he said. "I believe football in Indonesia could get more revenue from sponsorship, merchandise and TV rights. It's a matter of management."

Indonesia Marketing Association Vice President Fritz E. Simandjutak suggested the establishment of PSSI Inc. "Through this new idea, the government's role is limited to that of regulator and infrastructure provider. The PSSI and clubs have to switch from non-profit organizations to profit bodies," he said. "And most importantly, clubs must be able to change their fanatical supporters into loyal customers. Football is in the service industry and customers must come first. Of course, clubs must sustain success on the pitch." To ensure such a success, Fritz said the club and even PSSI must focus on talent scouting and revenue raising. "There should be a restructuring within PSSI and the focus is on those two issues. There is no other way for PSSI and clubs to convince football fans that their money really worth parting with except by giving good games and entertainment."