Football: QPR owner Fernandes wants SE Asia league

KUALA LUMPUR - The flamboyant Malaysian owner of English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers said Thursday he would be keen to support a Southeast Asian club competition similar to the Champions League in Europe.

Tony Fernandes, whose AirAsia is the world's biggest budget airline and who has already founded a regional basketball league, said the idea had long been a dream of his.

"I have always dreamed of an ASEAN football league. I will put money in an ASEAN league," Fernandes told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, referring to the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Fernandes, who also is principal of the Caterham Formula One team, made the comments in denying Malaysian media reports that he may be in the market to purchase an Indonesian football club.

Fernandes founded the ASEAN basketball league in 2009.

He said a Southeast Asian football league could help to improve the overall quality of football in the region.

"We started the ASEAN basketball league. It will be great to have an ASEAN football league like the European (Champions League). It will be exciting to see players from Malaysia and Singapore play," he said.

Football is extremely popular in the region.

"We just need more competition. If they (Malaysian teams) play everyday in a league like the Premier League we would have a great team.

"For me it is very sad. In the semi-finals of the Olympics, it is Japan against South Korea. When I was young we beat Japan and the South Korea. The difference is they have a very competitive league," he said.

"Probably one day we can do something," Fernandes said, smiling, but declining to say whether any plans were in the works.

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