EXCLUSIVE: The sports-mad, wealthy and politically powerful Bakrie family – the Lowy family’s equivalent in Indonesia – are said to be interested in buying an A-League club, say Indonesian sources.
The family, Indonesia’s 10th richest with a net worth of US$2.1 billion according to Forbes Magazine, own Indonesian Super League club Pelita Jaya.
The family also recently purchased a 20 percent share in Leicester City and sources say they are considering buying or investing in an Aussie A-League club.
In 1990s with the family’s backing, Pelita Jaya made headlines for signing the likes of Roger Milla and Maboang Kessack of Cameroon and Mario Kempes of Argentina as a player-manager.
These days Pelita feature two on-loan A-League players in Central Coast defender Chris Doig and Wellington’s former Olyroo wingback Troy Hearfield, as well as Malaysian hitman Safee Sali.
The Jakarta Post recently described the family’s obsession for football as being “probably the crown jewel of the Bakries, besides its coal business.”
The Bakrie family is a generous benefactor of the PSSI (Indonesia’s FA) as well as other sports chiefly badminton (the second most popular sport in the country behind football).
Aburizal Bakrie, the family’s patron, is also chairman of the political party Golkar while younger brother Nirwan owns Pelita Jaya.
The Kerawang-based club are coached by former Red Star Belgrade player Misha Radovic who signed on last November after arriving from his base in Sydney.
The struggling Pelita defeated Sriwijaya 1-0 on the weekend to drag themselves off the foot of the table with the A-League pair said to have played key roles in the victory.
With a number of A-League clubs struggling financially – and just a week after FFA closed the door on North Queensland Fury rather than risk a $2m loss – this news could be seen as a positive.
Indonesian football is witnessing a turbulent era with the Super League running concurrently with the breakaway Indonesia Premier League – unsanctioned by FIFA but backed by wealthy business people such as oil tycoon Arifin Panigoro.
Read next month's FourFourTwo Australia magazine Planet Football section for a report on Indonesian football.