The Jakarta Post
For Emmanuel Lestarto “Wandi” Wanandi and Anindya Bakrie, third-generation leaders at Indonesian conglomerates and stakeholders of third-tier English soccer clubs Tranmere Rovers and Oxford United respectively, having good relations with club owners is vital for shaping the future of the clubs they have each invested in.
Speaking at a webinar held by the British Chamber of Commerce (Britcham) in Indonesia recently, Wandi, one of the directors of the Santini Group, said he was very lucky to have Mark Palios, chairman of Tranmere Rovers, as his business partner.
“It was a very quick connection and quick decision between me and Mark. We started in April last year and we became investors in August. I didn’t know Tranmere before because it was in league 2, the fourth tier in English soccer, last year,” he said.
“Even though we are minority [shareholders], we chat every day. We discuss things. We have already planned for the future.”
When interviewed by The Jakarta Post last year, Palios praised the Indonesian investor for taking the risk to help the club, which was in need of some financial assistance. He said a series of programs were being considered, such as sending Indonesian players to the league so they could work on their skills and mentality. Besides sending players abroad, building a soccer school in Indonesia was also a possibility, Mark added.
Liverpool-based Tranmere Rovers, which was promoted to League One last year, found itself being relegated to the fourth-tier league as it stood in the 21st position when the English soccer authorities decided to put an end to the 2019-2020 seasons of League One and League Two on June 9 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Anindya, the oldest son of senior Golkar Party politician Aburizal Bakrie, said that one should look at the values offered by a soccer club before deciding to jump into the water.
His reason behind investing in Oxford United was because he believed in the club’s values.
“Oxford [has] good branding [with] 130 years [as an organization]. [It is] a good community. We thought that it is quite exciting to invest along with a couple of Southeast Asian investors, some from Thailand, [and] some from Vietnam.”
“Thus, starting with a club that plays in a third-tier league is a nice start for us. We could learn on how to manage a club, learn from its ups and down. From here, supporting our club so it could make it through to the second-tier league, the English Championship League, is already a huge challenge, let alone […] taking your club to the Premier League, the Holy Grail of soccer tournaments.”