KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Nov. 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Malaysian businessman Dato’ Ananth S. Nathan has undertaken a leading investment in founding English Premier League Club Wimbledon FC, resurrected in 2002 as AFC Wimbledon. This investment positions him as the second-largest individual shareholder, and one of the select few Asian owners of a European football club.
In a remarkable year where those of Asian heritage are rising to prominent positions in the UK—Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having recently ascended to political premiership on Deepavali — Ananth is also honoured to take up a new position, as International President for AFC Wimbledon.
AFC Wimbledon (affectionately known as the Dons), and its famed Plough Lane Stadium has a history of sporting triumph and heartbreak. The football club was controversially severed from its community by the decision of a Football Association commission in 2002. It was relocated and repositioned under a new name and ownership.
The club was reincarnated through a fan-led campaign and a multi-million-pound fundraising campaign to rebuild the beloved stadium.
Despite never having seen the team play live in their famed Plough Lane home, Ananth found his own journey echoed the story of struggle and triumph, forming an instant bond with AFC Wimbledon’s perseverance. “In 2010, I went through a tough stint in my personal and professional life. With the support of family and close friends, I persevered. Like a phoenix, my life rose from the ashes and embarked on an upwards trajectory,” he said.
Ananth continued, “The strong community spirit and the romantic history of the club were important catalysts of this investment. AFC Wimbledon’s story is one I believe will resonate in Malaysia and throughout Asia.”
Scoring further growth across Asia
Back home in Malaysia, Ananth serves as the President of the Malaysia Esports Federation, and is a pioneer of the Esports community across Southeast Asia. Alongside revitalised business foundations under his successful company AIRMARINE, an international integrated logistics and supply chain business, Ananth believes he is positioned to inspire an exciting new future for AFC Wimbledon.
He aspires to combine his unique Asian perspective and connections, and his extensive Esports experience to build on the Dons’ remarkable legacy and passionate fanbase.
Bold plans include having the Dons play against national teams of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, developing a Wimbledon Academy in Asia to help build player depth and experience, plus building a local clubhouse where people can watch the game live together.
Ananth also has a vision to potentially establish the Plough Lane stadium as a leading home of Esports, building on the huge growth of this innovative industry.
“I would like to see how we can add value with a Wimbledon Esports Division. According to reports, the global gaming market was valued at USD173 billion in 2021, and is expected to reach USD314 billion by 2027. That is something we should look to capitalise on,” concluded Ananth.