Is there a shady deal in the works for the Malaysian Football League (MFL)?

After cutting ties with its previous partner, IDEAL Systems, the MFL is on the verge of closing an RM32-million deal with Spacelabs Technology Sdn Bhd to manage and produce ‘live’ matches for Unifi TV (TM Malaysia).

As Spacelabs is a relatively unestablished newcomer, this monumental deal has raised many questions amongst the football fraternity, with some claiming that the production company could be part of an elaborate hoax.

According to a reliable source within the industry, it is believed that Spacelabs has requested an additional RM3 million, raising the total value of the contract to a whopping RM35 million.

“The extra RM3 million is to purchase the additional back-up transmitter that will be used to communicate the feed via IP (Internet) to the MFL Broadcast Centre and to the relevant Broadcast Partner such as Unifi TV (TM Malaysia).

“(The real question is) why is MFL doing business with a company that has no solid track record (in production). The other industry players are also not familiar with Spacelabs. What could be the real deal here?

“(If it is a legitimate deal) it’s an awful deal to begin with,” said the source, who is well-informed on the matter.
With such incriminating claims being brought to light, The Vibes initiated their own investigation and discovered that the company in question does not even have a proper office.

Supposed location of Spacelab. Pic courtesy T. Vignesh
Supposed location of Spacelab. Pic courtesy T. Vignesh
Lobby of Spacelab's claimed office location. Pic courtesy of T.Vignesh
Lobby of Spacelab’s claimed office location. Pic courtesy of T.Vignesh

When The Vibes paid a visit to the business premises of Spacelabs ─ as stated on their business card ─ at B-26-02, Link 2 in Bukit Jalil, it turned out that the office was not housed in a commercial space but a residential condominium.

Supposed office address of Spacelabs as shown on the business card. Pic courtesy of a source.
Supposed office address of Spacelabs as shown on the business card. Pic courtesy of a source.

This begs the question: why would a registered company display the address of a residential unit on their business card?

Furthermore, after a background check was conducted at the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), The Vibes discovered that the registered business address of Spacelabs ─ at No. 38, Lorong Yap Hin, off Jalan Pasar ─ officially belongs to ‘Syarikat Perniagaan Bee Kwong’, a tailoring company based in Kuala Lumpur.

Spacelabs' registered address on the SSM directs to this location. Pic courtesy of T.Vignesh
Spacelabs’ registered address on the SSM directs to this location. Pic courtesy of T.Vignesh

Arguably, Spacelabs may not have had enough time or traction to establish itself in lieu of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought the entire world to a standstill a few months after the company was registered in October 2019.

According to SSM, the directors of Spacelabs are as follows: Benny Ching Kuo Wei, Goh Hong Loong and Cheong Kwong Hon, while its company secretary is Choong Boon Gan.

“I’m not sure who these people are, as nobody (in the production industry) has heard of them before. How can MFL do a multi-million-ringgit business deal with a production company that does not have the necessary equipment or a proper office? What’s even more worrying is how will they manage and produce over 200 football matches next season,” said the source.

Earlier, The Vibes reported that Spacelabs was requesting an upfront payment of 20% to purchase production equipment for next year’s M-League.

Since the cancellation of the TM 2020 Malaysia Cup last month and the subsequent withdrawal of sponsorships, it seems that the above request only served to make matters worse for the already-impinged football body.

With all this in play, one needs to ask if the MFL really did its due diligence before negotiations were initiated with Spacelabs on a partnership deal or is this new company getting ‘special treatment’ because of its contact within the MFL board?

Since the next season of M-League begins in February 2021, there is an urgent need for the MFL to address the matter as the partnership contract with Spacelabs is expected to be signed by the end of the month.

However, when The Vibes contacted Spacelabs chief executive officer and director, Kelvin Cheong, for an interview at his office, he requested it to be conducted once the MFL contract was finalised as they were currently busy planning for the job.

Since the M-League commences on February 26, 2021, Spacelabs has exactly 56 days to purchase their equipment, train their employees and test their broadcast capabilities for ‘live’ matches.

Do you think MFL should be taking such a risk?  – The Vibes