Vincent Tan and Tony Fernandes: Taking a closer look at the EFL Championship’s Malaysian Owners

Football owners are a mysterious bunch, and can swoop in as heroes, saving clubs from the brink of extinction in extreme cases, or total villains, plunging clubs into financial trouble. In the EFL Championship, the demographics of owners are diverse, with Chinese billionaires, American business magnets, and English investors, amongst others, all owning clubs in the same league.

Here, we’ll be taking a look at Malaysian owners in particular, and the two clubs that are owned by Malaysian businessmen: Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff City.

Who are Vincent Tan and Tony Fernandes?

Now, when you think of Malaysian businessmen, the ‘high life’ may come to mind, such as gambling in the Malaysia and dining out in lavish mansions in the Far East eating mouth-wateringly tasty cuisine.

You may imagine that these men (in our case) also run their football clubs in the same stylish, money-oriented, and laid-back fashion, but ownership in the professional game isn’t quite like that…

Vincent Tan is the 51% majority shareholder at Cardiff City FC…


Tan has enjoyed his fair share of highs and lows as Cardiff City owner. He appeared in Wales in 2010, as part of a Malaysian consortium that approached the club with an interest to buy out from the previous owners.

Despite promises to pump large amounts of cash into Cardiff, Tan’s first significant move as Cardiff owner was to completely rebrand the club, changing the ‘Bluebirds’ kit colour of over 100 years from blue to red, as well as introducing a new club crest. As you can imagine, this did not go down particularly well with the Cardiff supporters; yet Tan wasn’t finished there.

After gaining promotion to the Premier League in 2013, Tan once again announced his plans to inject money into the club in order to attract top-tier talent. However, he then suspended Cardiff’s then-Head of Recruitment, Ian Moody, and replaced him with 23-year-old Kazakh Alisher Apsalyamovb, an intern who had apparently been hired to paint walls at the stadium. Apsalyamovby’s visa was later investigated, and he was forced to leave the club within months.

The same season, Tan would criticise the fact that then-Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall wasn’t scoring many goals. Make of this what you will…

Between Cardiff’s first relegation from the top flight in 2014, and their second promotion in 2018, Tan has been embroiled in racism rows with managers, has changed the club kit back to blue, with the original badge, and has bought shares in three other clubs.

To be fair to the enigmatic Malaysian, he’s enjoyed a fair amount of success at Cardiff, but sadly, it seems like his time at the Cardiff City Stadium will be remembered for his shortcomings, rather than successes.

In 2017, he announced his intentions to sell the club.

Tony Fernandes and his associates currently bankroll Shepherds Bush- based Queens Park Rangers…

Fernandes took control of QPR on August 18th, 2011 following the club’s promotion to the Premier League under then-manager Neil Warnock. He bought out Bernie Ecclestone’s 66% stake in the club and became the majority shareholder as well as Chairman.

Fernandes was best known in Asia for his 2001 purchase of failing government airline Air Asia, before revitalising the airline and turning it into an extremely profitable low-budget carrier. He was actually a West Ham supporter, and tried to purchase a share in the Hammers, but the bid was rejected in in 2011 before he became owner of QPR.

Fernandes’ time in charge of QPR hasn’t been quite as eventful as Vincent Tan’s reign at Cardiff, and the Rs have spent only one year more in the Championship than in the Premier League since he arrived. Despite an average few years in the Championship, QPR are generally financially stable.

Since 2015, Fernandes has been co-chairman with Ruben Gnanalingam.

The club has had some issues with Financial Fair Play in the last few years but considering the fortunes of an increasing number of EFL sides, QPR aren’t doing too badly. Fernandes stepped down as co-chairman in 2018, but remains a minority shareholder in QPR.