Datuk Dr. Noordin Ahmad’s purchase of a 50 percent stake in Italian Serie B side F.C. Bari 1908 is causing a stir back home, with many wondering who the businessman really is. FootballTalk.org spoke to several people in the industry and here’s what we uncovered…
Who is Dr. Noordin?
Datuk Dr. Noordin Ahmad and Bari grabbed headlines in Malaysia following the club’s confirmation that the Malaysian had purchased 50 percent of the Italian club’s stake.
The local footballing scene, except Kelantan FA president Tan Sri Annuar Mus, has no clue as to who Dr. Noordin is and are also on a search of their own to get in touch with the 59-year-old, in hope that they could strike up a partnership for the benefit of Malaysian football.
Annuar told Malay Mail that Noordin was a close friend of his since the pair studied together at the Royal Military College in the 1970s.
“He is a genuine businessman with vast experience in oil and gas, education, aviation, and corporate restructuring. He has always kept a low profile despite being in the industry for 33 years. He was never with government,” he said, before telling the daily that the duo have big plans for Malaysia.
NST reported the Penang-born Perak-bred businessman was the founder of the Malaysian-French Institute, a technical training centre under MARA specialising in automation, electrical, mechanical and maintenance.
MARA is an agency under the Malaysian Ministry of Entrepreneur & Co-operative Development.
Dr. Noordin is also associated with Leonardo (formerly Leonardo-Finmeccanica and Finmeccanica), an Italian company specialising in aerospace, defence and security sectors.
He is said to have played a role in Malaysia’s military dealings with Italy.
In 2014, bilateral trade between the two countries reached about RM9 billion. Among it included helicopters and military equipment from Finmeccanica.
One observer noted “Dr. Noordin could be a proxy for a big gun in Malaysia” but at the moment, Dr. Noordin seems to have built an attachment to Italy, a country he says saved his life during Christmas.
“I suffered my second heart attack in Rome … the first attack was 10 years ago. I thought I was going to die (this time) but the doctors in Italy took care of me and they saved me. I feel I should do something for Italy,” he told reporters in Bari.
Who wants to know him?
Well, just about everyone at the moment seems to want to get acquainted with Dr. Noordin.
“I don’t know him … he has not been involved in Malaysian football before. I’ve been trying to get information for the past week but the only information I’ve got is through the newspapers,” said Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) general-secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin.
“The FAM executive committee members have asked me to find out more details too.”
FAM deputy-president Datuk Seri Afandi Hamzah also echoed similar views, adding that getting in touch with Dr. Noordin will allow the two parties to work hand-in-hand in the future.
“We need to know who he is and later have a chat. There are many ways a club from Europe can help Malaysian football. Building a good relationship will be good for both parties as I’m sure Dr. Noordin will want the club to have a strong following here, something our involvement could contribute.”
Dr. Noordin has already expressed a desire to set-up an academy in Malaysia but Professional Coaches Association of Malaysia were fairly skeptical of the idea.
“It’s good to have another Malaysian owner in Europe. We may not know him but I reckon in time to come, things will be clearer and we can look at raising the standard here too,” said its president B. Satiananthan.
“Having an academy here can only mean well but it needs to be a full-time one. We can’t do much with a weekend academy as it is simply not enough. Aspiring players need proper training every day and play 30-50 matches a year.”
What’s next for Dr. Noordin’s Bari?
Bari are in Serie C – Group C now and their main goal is to back to Serie B. The top team gain automatic promotion while 9 other teams placed second to tenth enter the play-offs to determine one remaining Seria B slot.
Dr. Noordin is keen to see the club rub shoulders with the big boys in Italy. Calcionews24.com reported that he said the Malaysian government and Petronas, the country’s leading oil and gas company, could be interested in investing in the club.