ProEvents is one of the leading agencies that organise friendly football matches for top European clubs across Asia, particularly clubs from the English Premier League, and last week the organisation held a friendly between English champions Chelsea and a Thai All-Stars side at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok. The chairman of ProEvents, Paul J Kam, who is co-owner alongside his brother, spoke to Post Sport’s In Sopheng in an exclusive interview held at the Shangri La Hotel where the stars of Chelsea stayed ahead of match is to ask where it is possible to bring a top English team to play on Cambodian soil.
Q: Could you tell me about ProEvents? When was it founded?
A: ProEvents at the beginning was a public relations company, and in 1993, when Japan’s J League started, we had Japan Tobacco as a client. Japan Tobacco were a sponsor of the J League and they came to us and said: “Hey, you are our PR agency, can you help us organise a football match?” We didn’t know how to organise a football match but thought we would like to try, and we immediately said yes. The company was founded by me and my brother, who is a FIFA match agent. After the success of that we decided to drop everything and concentrate on football because we could see the potential. In those days there were not many teams travelling for friendly matches and in Asia we have so many fans who love to watch famous names so we thought there must a chance for this business to survive.
Which clubs do you organise matches for and where?
Since that time we have worked for Sampdoria, Manchester United, the England national team, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City among others to play friendlies across Asia. We have organised friendlies nearly everywhere across Asia – in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia – and even Brunei, where we brought Chelsea to play.
Is there a chance that you could bring a top European side over to play in Cambodia?
There is always a chance and I will not say never. Maybe the country needs time to grow but I am sure there are a lot of football fans in Cambodia. I am sure Cambodia also has a good stadium.
What things would you look for before you brought a club to Cambodia?
To do that, I would need to look at the infrastructure – for example, do you have a good stadium? The pitch is very important nowadays because the players are very expensive and they don’t want to get injured. So you need to look at that and you have to try to improve that. You need to provide a good opposition if you were to attract a team like Chelsea, for example. You don’t want the opposition to lose 17-0 so you’ve got to improve the skills. If there is a chance to see whether anyone is interested in hosting I will definitely speak to them about coming to Cambodia. There is also the commercial side – if a club comes to a country, they want to win as many new fans as possible and they need to win many fans as possible. So there are not just technical but also commercial factors.
How much money does a country need to spend for a friendly match? Do you need local partners to make it happen?
It depends on the clubs. If you go for top, top clubs – Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, say – these are very expensive teams. I can’t tell you how much because I have my obligations to keep. But it does depend on the occasion: sometimes it is cheap and sometimes it is expensive. You really need partners to come forward, that’s why I said it depends on commercial values.