Malaysian third division side Petaling Jaya Rangers (or PJ Rangers) posted a tweet saying they met with “Cerezo Osaka CEO Rick Narita” with a photo in which Narita and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes held their arms around each other’s shoulders today.
In fact, Rick, or Ryutaro, Narita isn’t a “Cerezo Osaka CEO” but a senior executive manager (this might not be a correct translation though, jigyo bucho in Japanese) and a board member of Osaka Football Club Co Ltd. He had also played the same role for professional baseball team Nipponham Fighters, owned by one of Cerezo’s key partner companies Nipponham.
According to the tweet, they discussed “a potential collaboration” today, and this is not the first time they talked on this topic. In May last year, PJ Rangers deputy president Simon Lim visited Osaka and met Cerezo president Minoru Tamada and other executives to talk about future collaboration, for example Cerezo sending coaches to and loaning out some players to the Malaysian side.
PJ Rangers, renamed from AirAsia Allstars in 2016, is owned by low-cost airline AirAsia. Its president Tony Fernandes is also the chairman of English Football League Championship side Queens Park Rangers after acquiring 66% stake in 2011. It is totally unclear what kind of “collaboration” they are exploring at the moment, but considering Cerezo’s past partnership and collaboration with other clubs or companies, possible options include sending coaches to PJ Rangers for youth development, as written above, and Yanmar becoming a sponsor of PJ Rangers and AirAsia becoming a sponsor of Cerezo Osaka may also be an option.