A ‘wanted’ bulletin titillates but is at ominous notice?

How Clare Rewcastle Brown Uncovered Malaysia's 1MDB Scandal | Time
Photo: Time Magazine

The movement control order (MCO) imposed in March last year saw the end of live shows. Musicians and stand-up comedians including Jason Leong, Harith Iskander, Alan Perera and the like resorted to online rib-tickling episodes with their wit and humour.

Now, unwittingly and perhaps inadvertently, the police have joined in providing “fun” but not the much-needed comic relief.

Malaysians have been amused by a public appeal – complete with a “wanted” poster – for information on the Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown, following an arrest warrant issued against her in September.

I am amused because she was in the news two days ago. If the police aren’t already aware, she is in London and by referring to recent media reports, they would have confirmed her location.

On Tuesday, she spoke at a virtual forum hosted by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Freedom Film Network (FFN) and Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) in conjunction with the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.

Last night, she declared that the police had previously texted her directly and the authorities knew “all there is to know”, including details of her whereabouts.

This was after Bukit Aman CID chief Abd Jalil Hassan’s appeal to the public for information on Rewcastle-Brown, who had failed to appear in court to face a charge of defaming Sultanah Nur Zahirah of Terengganu.

“If they hope someone will ring up with dirt about me, they will be disappointed as I live a very boring but happy life. They should focus on crooks who are stealing from Malaysia. So, they could pick up the phone and call me, and I can inform them,” she was quoted as saying.

Then, the question to be asked is: Why all this charade? Do the police expect ordinary Malaysians to know her whereabouts or is it for other plausible reasons?

It is common knowledge that she is based in London and there’s little those sitting 10,000km away in Malaysia can offer.

She is neither in the local speaking circuit nor is she anywhere in the region. If the police had been resourceful, they would have gotten all the details in the court documents she filed in her defence against a suit brought by PAS leader Abdul Hadi Awang.

Last night, she also gave her itinerary to Malaysiakini – moderating a seminar on the “timber mafia” on Monday at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow; attending a press freedom event in London on Nov 21 and attending another event at the UK Parliament the following week where she will also be discussing press freedom.

So, will a team of officers be jumping on the next flight to London considering the importance and urgency paid to know her whereabouts?

Then, we also have to ask if we are getting our laughs in instalments to tickle our funny bones?

What about the known crooks?

One, two days ago, Jalil insisted the police will continue pursuing the extradition of transgender entrepreneur Nur Sajat Kamaruzzaman, despite the latter being granted asylum in Australia.
Is it an exercise in futility? The Australian government has granted her asylum and that is the end of the matter.

By the way, cross-dressing and religious offences matter little when such requests are made.

But then, the relationship between the police of Malaysia and Australia is not exactly top-notch.

Remember the case of the police officer who was suspected of being involved in money laundering and forfeited almost RM1 million in an Australian bank?

One of Malaysia’s highest ranking police officers forfeited A$320,000 (about RM1 million) by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), which suspected his Sydney bank account held laundered money or proceeds of crime.

Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd claimed the money was proceeds from the sale of a house but did not explain the flurry of suspicious cash deposits. Unknown depositors visited branches and ATMs around Australia and deposited cash in small amounts.

But the million ringgit question is: After all these years, why hasn’t such a bulletin been issued for the most wanted man – Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, who is wanted for stealing billions of ringgit from Malaysians?

Why have there been no similar bulletins for his accomplices Casey Tang and Jasmine Looi? Ditto for other 1MDB officials who are in hiding.

It has been more than seven months since a 33-year-old who is wanted for organised crime, money laundering, Macau scams and commercial crime cases escaped a police dragnet. Nicky Liow is still missing although about 70 of his associates, including police officers, were rounded up.

Then, police have yet to locate Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, who has an arrest warrant issued by the High Court in 2014. He is being sought after having unlawfully taken away his daughter from the lawful custody of her mother.

So, is it the season for more such “wanted” posters and bulletins or have some sections of the population been made to believe that “foreign villains” are trying to destroy Malaysia?

This was the mantra sung at the height of the revelations of the 1MDB scandal and almost succeeded until the can of worms was opened.

R NADESWARAN is tickled yet surprised over the turn of events and wonders if it is a precursor to the bad old days.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

单凭自行成长 撑起一片天!


Missy Park

单凭自行成长 撑起一片天


美国女性运动服品牌Title Nine,从1989年创立至今,没有引进外部资金、没有上市融资,创始人Missy Park就凭着一股信念,靠着自己力量,从负债累累到做出1亿美元业绩!


Missy Park这位女企业家的故事,要从美国1972年制订《教育修正案》第9条(Title IX)法令讲起。看似风马牛不相及的两件事,到底有什么关联?



出生于1962年的Missy Park,高中及大学时期正好碰上这项开放,让她有机会参与校内许多运动项目。而热爱运动的她,除了是学校运动员,也是耶鲁大学的篮球队手,但她却一直面对一个苦恼,那就是找不到适合的女性运动服。



身为校队成员,Missy Park的运动生涯都在穿着不合适男性运动服中渡过。

1989年,27岁的她,决定开创一个“女版Nike”,推出专为女性剪裁的运动服品牌。感恩于自己是因为《教育修正案》第9条(Title IX)开放政策下的受益者,她把品牌命名为Title Nine,也是对美国女运动员的一份致敬。

敢冒险往往是企业家最基本的条件,对服装业或零售业没有太多经验的Missy Park,向父亲借了3万美元做为创始资金,把家里的车库改为办公处及货仓,把梦想付诸于行动。


如果你相信吸引力法则,你就会明白为何有些人身边总是围绕着许多可以给予援助的好人或贵人,Missy Park就是这么一位幸运儿。


Title Nine的产品以最传统的宣传册(Catalog)形式推广,而宣传册内的模特都是女运动员,可能不够炫丽,但却最真实。由于向供应商取货都有几个月账期,使资金不足的Missy Park,得以周转。

唯在创业首4年,Title Nine都是捱着过的,发出1至2万份的宣传册,只有15份订单的收获,转化率超级低。

由于业绩不够给力、长期赊账及周转不灵,Title Nine在经营4年后就欠下了20万美元的债务,公司的资金都押在货物上,经常性面对现金不足的问题。

Missy Park说,一年内大概总有两次是把她逼到墙角,很想放弃这门事业,一直问到底还值得撑下去吗?春天几时才到来?


绞尽脑汁,她想了一百种可能的方法以取得新客户,同时也为现有客户提供最好服务,以留住客户及加强忠诚度。Title Nine也积极参与许多赛跑活动及锦标赛, 努力推广产品及提高品牌知名度。

Title Nine这些年的销售额都是以单位数成长,到了1993年,终于第一次取得净盈利。没有经费砸百万做宣传子,就是按照自己的步伐循序渐进,公司业务渐入佳境。

Missy Park说,Title Nine可以按照自己的方式来达到自行成长,其中一个主要原因是没有投资者压力。对她来说,与风险投资交涉与沟通,也是另一门学问,她自认学不会“风投圈的语言”。


随着互联网崛起,Title Nine也在1995年设立网站,逐渐从宣传册的模式转向数码化。

在公司成立的第8年,也就是1997年,Title Nine终于从向零售实体店,而且惊讶地取得很好反应,约有50%的客户都是源自超过两小时距离的客源,这彰显了Title Nine的品牌魅力,尤其吸引了许多年龄介于30至 50岁、爱运动的女性群体。

尽管是以女性运动服起家,但让Title Nine业务改写局面的却是一小件的运动胸罩,Missy Park开始留意到运动胸罩的订单增加。



2000年,Title Nine的业务再度扩张,开始自家设计与生产,而第一个要生产的当然就是明星产品—运动胸罩。通过与一位瑜伽老师的合作,Title Nine制造的运动胸罩舒适度更强。

届时,Title Nine年度营业额增加至4000万美元,并聘请了首位总裁来管理公司与业务。


火车跑得快 全凭车头带


同样的情况也曾发生在Missy Park身上,由于执着于平面宣传册的模式,而导致未及时追上社交媒体、网红宣传手法的转变,使Title Nine的业绩在2014年及2015年大受影响,尤其源自平面渠道的营业额,更从80%大跌至30%!

所幸车头转得快,经过6年的苦心经营及转变,Title Nine在截至2020年的营业额冲上了1亿美元大关!

随后新冠肺炎疫情大爆发,使Title Nine所有零售店面无法打开门做生意,在2020年3月份的2周就流失了500万美元营业额。

疫情迫使许多人都把线下转至线上,庆幸Title Nine早前已经开始深耕电子商务平台,在实体店无法操作后,公司唯有火力全开攻电商,力度好比把过往需要6年时间完成的事,却用了6个月就完成了。

我们常说,潜力是被逼出来了!现今,电商平台贡献Title Nine的85%营业额,零售则占15%。


创业32年,如果一早让风投加入或上市,Missy Park的身家早已是亿万,但是对于坚持依靠自己力量循序渐进,她一点都不感到后悔,因为她总相信:“不是所有可计算的事物都可以被量化”(Not all things that count can be counted)。


Title Nine品牌的起源是致敬女性在运动场上得到公平对待,产品主打女性市场,公司团队也是以女性执行员占大部份,充份发挥了巾帼英雄的力量。

这个由女性独资拥有的品牌,做到零债务、不需外部资金或外来投资者。今年59岁的Missy Park最近受访时表示,她的期望是在未来10至15年把Title Nine传承给另一位有能力维护并宣扬品牌精神的继承人。 

Missy Park教会我们的事

一、以另一种思维诠译成功:Title Nine没有上市,所以不必承受来自投资者KPI的压力,但Missy Park也因而无法一夜爆富。面对像Lululemon及Athleta这样后来者的加入,Missy Park认为成功的定义因人而定,她更在意的是如何扶持女性崛起的力量。比如该公司每年为女性拥有的品牌举办两次的投售竞赛(Pitch Competition),胜出的品牌可在Title Nine线上平台出售产品,力助栽培女性品牌茁壮成长。

二、以另一种开明管理企业:虽然Title Nine是由女性独资拥有的品牌,产品也主打女性市场,公司团队也是以女性执行员占大部份,但不代表Title Nine是一家排斥男性的企业。该公司早前就委任一位男性为总裁,Missy Park说,女性事业也需要多元化的思维去寻求突破。

三、以另一种姿态达到平衡:对许多女性而言,家庭与工作两头烧,如何在两者 之间达到平衡,是极为挑战的事。但Missy Park认为,当你要干大事,就必定要投入更多时间心思与资源去深耕,而这段期间“不平衡”是必然经过的阶段,对她而言,可以准时回家与家人共进晚餐,已经是最好的平衡。

[EXCLUSIVE] Let common sense prevail

Daily life has been rather monotonous the last 2 weeks since the reopening of the economic activities in this country. Nobody is excited with the daily cases of positive COVID cases as proven by the sudden absence of daily viral postings of positive cases and hospital numbers. Traffic jams in the city centre have returned and weekend traffic jams on highways is now a norm.

The latest major hue and cry must be about the whisky brand Timah which was built around the story of an Englishman called Captain Tristan Speedy and making whiskeys in tin mines etc. Local politicians raised the issue that the brand owners were insensitive to local culture and religion as Timah is short form for the name Fatimah and Captain Speedy looks like a religious preacher wearing a kopiah (picture).

Pic: Focus Malaysia

Brand owners in multi racial Malaysia do have to more careful when it comes to brand names and brand imagery. What seems like an innocuous name or image would suddenly cause a big furore among certain segments of society. This is despite the fact that Malaysia is a secular society and the constitution protects the right for all citizens to live in this country, to work and conduct any businesses that does not fall foul of the law.

Any marketeer worth its salt will understand that it takes a long time and heavy investments to build a brand name. As such my advice to the brand owner of Timah is to continue using the brand name now that it is famous or infamous. This is an unexpected bonus as far as brand building is concern. The brand owner has not broken any laws and no courts in the country will agree with any such far-fetched complaints that Timah is short form for Fatimah. In fact, google ‘short form for Fatimah’ and you will find nothing on the web.

However, looking at the picture of Captain Speedy on the label, he does look like a bearded preacher wearing a kopiah. The brand owner should be conscious of this brand imagery especially when it is placed on the label of an alcoholic bottle. My advice to the brand owner is to remove the picture of Captain Speedy from the label. The image of a religious preacher on an alcoholic bottle is a no-no as far as basic packaging designs are concerned.

I certainly hope that this issue can be resolved amicably between all parties. Brand owners should not be bullied by politicians into changing brand names that are harmless and legally valid. Always remember that if you are on the right side of the law, you are protected by our Constitution and our Judiciary. But brand owners must always be sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of religious fanatics who see a devil behind every shadow. In this case, keep the brand name and remove the sensitive picture from the label on the bottle.

Looking back to 2007, the late Yasmin Ahmad directed a movie called Muallaf and her main actress Sharifah Armani had to shave her head to play her role. Pictures of her in an interview appeared and there was big uproar from the hard-line conservatives where the Mufti of Perak said, ‘Woman should have long hair. In Islam, a woman cannot act like a man and a man cannot act as a woman’. Armani was under tremendous pressure at that time with all newspapers reporting on the incident.

As Armani was the brand ambassador for Silkygirl, we had to act swiftly. After discussing with Yasmin, we decided to do a photo shoot for Armani making sure she wore a long sleeve cardigan and projected a film star with a shaven head looking confident and unshaken with our Silkygirl tag line, Unleash your confidence. Simple advertisement in black and white that was placed in both English and Malay medium. Her popularity remains intact and her later TV commercials with Mawi (our male ambassador) was such a big hit among the Malay audience.

Any major incidents will produce positive and negative publicity for your brands. As Brand Managers, you must act swiftly. If it is positive publicity, then you need to continue to accelerate the brand momentum by increasing investment in clever advertising. If negative publicity and you are not sure on how to handle the fallout, quickly consult with your PR agencies to formulate a strategy of containment.

This Timah case is interesting as they have to deal with those who are devoid of common sense. Members of Parliament should be debating on the national budget at this juncture instead of wasting precious debate time on this ludicrous issue.

I would have thought that the major discussion at this moment should be on how our government should construct a national budget that will hasten the recovery of our economy. That these MP’s should be asking the government to help raise the standards of living for the people that they are supposed to be representing.

Looking at brand names, Omar whiskey from Taiwan will face similar pressure. Importers of wine from Spain (brands like Dara), Italy (Amira, Aisha, Nur, Citra), USA (Nadia) and India (Raya) should be concerned too. If the word ‘hotdogs’ can’t survive in this country, nothing will. So hot sausage will do just fine.

But if you check the Malay-English dictionary, Timah means Tin as in alloy metal. Anybody reading it otherwise will be considered a tin head or a dim wit. Captain Speedy do look like a dimwit so it is no loss to the brand if it is discarded from the face of this earth.

We have bigger problems to worry about so let’s put a stop to this ridiculous debate. Sigh…

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Timah and the auditor-general’s report

Photo: The Vibes

The government, its leaders, some lawmakers, and a section of our population, please take a bow. You have shown the world that in difficult times, a modification of the phrase “Keep calm and carry on” can do wonders.

By replacing just two words, “carry on” to “divert attention”, even the most problematic issues can be put on the back burner while making way for trivial issues to be in the forefront.

Isn’t it an irony that at a time when the auditor-general warns the country that we are digging one hole after another just to fill the holes dug up in the yesteryears, politicians are trivialising a hitherto unknown brand of whiskey?

To put it colloquially, it is a case of “hutang sampai mati” (in debt until death) and yet the system pays scant attention to this gigantic problem.

Doesn’t anyone worry that Malaysians will have to carry the debts in perpetuity – generation after generation – while some decision-makers earn enough to last several generations?

Isn’t it an irony we are now understanding the mindset of lawmakers on both sides?

The latest salvo by one politician that “drinking Timah whiskey is akin to drinking a Malay woman” must be the crème la crème of the crop.

How she came to that conclusion deserves a doctoral thesis but when does this farce end?

Aren’t Ramly burgers and Dutch Lady milk synonymous with Malaysian consumers?

Aren’t we supposed to lather ourselves in the bath with Zaitun and use it “tanpa was was” (without any doubts)? Or have kacip fatimah in our food?

Yet, the attention paid to the amber liquid whose customer base is the minority community has far superseded the importance and significance of the national debt and other disclosures by the auditor-general.

Was this all pre-planned because of an important event in Malacca later this month?

Is it a case of declaring that “I am holier than thou”? Or are these efforts to conceal other adversities facing the nation and its leadership?

Isn’t it an irony when the auditor-general’s warning about financial non-compliance is ignored by the powers-that-be but diversionary tactics are used to overlook one sham after another that surfaces?

No check and balance
Auditor general Nik Azman Nik Abdul Majid said there were RM510.49 million in irregular payments, of which RM499.19 million involved maintenance service claims without being verified at the National Security Council (NSC) level.
What sort of checks and balances do we have?

Weren’t the government’s financial orders breached? Who allowed this to happen?
Not to worry. They have better issues to think about.

The land of Hang Tuah beckons and there’s the whiskey “tin” to keep the minds of the people elsewhere.

For good measure, the auditor-general said: “To enable corrective action and improvements to be taken, the auditor-general has submitted 29 recommendations, namely four recommendations for verification of financial statements and 25 recommendations for compliance audits of federal ministries and departments, to be considered for implementation by ministries and departments.”

Wouldn’t it surprise anyone if such recommendations are put in a steel cabinet in the Putrajaya to gather dust? How many such recommendations were made by previous auditor-generals?

Have they been complied with? If they had, we would not have been in this mess in the first place.

Expressions of concern over issues that would put the country’s economy in a backspin are considered words in the wilderness as corruption, thefts, and leaks go on unabated.

While the foot-dragging over the Pandora Papers and related issues are in the public domain, isn’t it an irony that four ministries were involved in “negotiations” with the manufacturers of the whiskey to consider changing its brand name?

If only the same amount of latitude and importance had been given to at least one issue raised by the auditor-general, some money would have ended up in the coffers of the Treasury.

However, it will also be good to know the compensation package offered to the brand for its goodwill, marketing, and related issues.

So, we are back to the good old “bad” days when the Treasury was raided at random whenever the need arose. When will the government start thinking of financial prudence and cost-cutting?

While citizens are told to tighten their belts, this appears not to be applicable to the officialdom, some politicos, and their cronies.

Don’t we have people of integrity in the government or have we already mined the base?

People come first?

So, where do we go from here? Malacca is on the top of the pile. Power is the priority, people come second.

Don’t believe all those slogans of “working for the people” or “people come first.” It is winning at all costs even if it means subsidising the cost of consumer products.

Is this the best we can find among our ranks?

Thieves and felons roam the corridors of power to look for what is available. There’s plenty on offer. With so much leeway and freedom to loot, what’s there to stop them?

We have seen fat cats in government-linked companies and incompetent people in government agencies who have neither the knowledge nor the expertise to carry out the tasks before them.
The “kissing trains” episode should constantly remind us about round pegs in square holes.

There has been doctoring of proceedings, theft from the vaults of the MACC, squandering of money meant for the poor, back-handers, and kickbacks. Will anything surprise Malaysians anymore?

R NADESWARAN feels that every right-thinking Malaysian has reasons to feel angry and disgusted at the current happenings.

*The views expressed are those of the author. If you have any questions about the content, copyright or other issues of the work, please contact Newswav.

Accelerating an economic reset

Kuala Lumpur – 29 October 2021 – The recent budget announcement holds good potential for SMEs, according to Datin Yap Shin Siang, CEO of YYC Group, a local tax and accounting firm founded in 1974 which is one of the top 10 accountancy firms in Malaysia. As their competency is in serving the SME market, her analysis will focus on the Budget Announcements that most affect SMEs. 

Datin Yap noted that the budget is a good way to “accelerate an economic reset  and restart the economy”. Yap mentioned: “One of the most important things in a business is cash flow – it’s good that the government has introduced 3 initiatives to ease working capital requirements for SMEs, including Micro Credit Scheme, Business Financing and Alternative Financing, Bank Negara Malaysia Funds and Business Finance Guarantee Scheme. These schemes range from RM10,000 to RM 10 million in financing, and are suitable for micro enterprises to small medium enterprises (SMEs). 

Notably, on the income tax front, SMEs have the ability to defer their income tax installments up to 30th June 2022. In addition, all businesses are allowed to make tax estimate amendments for income payable in the 11th month before October 31, 2022; (previously only available in the 6th and 9th months). As for manufacturing companies, the reinvestment allowance has been extended for another 2 years until 2024. 

Yap noted: “Companies are given good incentives to renovate their premises, with a tax deduction on costs of renovation and renewal of premises up to RM300,000 until end of the year 2022, with an extension of special deduction for renovation of business facilities to comply with SOP requirements such as ventilation upgrades, customer seating and employee  infrastructure. Landlords who give a rental reduction of at least 30% are rewarded with a special tax deduction until June 2022 (extended from January 2022).

There will also be a real property gains tax (RPGT) exemption for any individual Malaysian citizens who hold property for more than 5 years. No RPGT will be imposed from the 6th year onwards, as opposed to the current 5%. 

To stimulate business activity, newly incorporated SMEs (incorporated between 1 July 2020 until 31 December 2022) are given an income tax rebate of RM20,000 for every year for the next 3 years. Under the Jamin Kerja initiative, SME business owners who employ those who are not actively working can enjoy an incentive of 20% to 30% of the employee’s monthly salary. Under the PERANTIS scheme, an allowance of up to RM900 per month for 6 months for graduates and school leavers from 18-30 years old on the executive level, for those with a diploma and above will be given.”

Yap also noted: “On the individual front, the additional RM2,500 tax relief for purchase of handphone, notebooks and tablets has been extended for another one year up to year of assessment 2022. There is also further extension of tax relief for domestic travel expense of up to RM1,000 for another year. Lastly, tax relief for fees paid to child care and kindergarten of RM3,000 has been extended for another 2 years. “

Under the Keluarga Malaysia concept, it is good to see the people being allocated for. With all the tax breaks, one may wonder if the government will have enough funds – and thankfully, those companies are making huge profits above more than RM100 million, will have a one-off taxed at 33% instead of the usual 24%. 

Yap concludes: “The new realities of Covid 19 and changes in leadership in the nation has left many of us quite drained, but this new budget offers some hope that we will be able to recover quickly as a nation. I urge you to take advantage of the opportunities given to get back to work, upskill, and stimulate the economy. Notably, the government has been listening to the people, and the personal mentions of several successful startup founders during the budget announcement as well as even e-sports personalities that won international tournaments show that they are in tune with current economic developments. All in all, it is a good step towards Malaysia’s recovery, and future prosperity”.

About the author:
Datin Yap Shin Siang, CA(M), CPA (AUST), CFP, MBA (U.K), B.COM (MELB)

Group CEO, YYC Group

Yap Shin Siang, or fondly known as Shin, estimates that the firm is already in the top 10 accountancy firms by size and can rival the Big Four locally. She took over the family business, shook off gender biases, and grew a small business into a major player. Being the second generation in the family business, she has grown a team of 50 staff to almost 800 staff today. She has also tripled the business revenue since 2016, and won the attention of OCBC Bank to invest and become a strategic partner.

She has over 20 years of professional experience in public accounting, tax and business advisory. Shin is the author of two business titles and is also a frequent speaker for seminars organised by China Press, Nanyang Siang Pau, Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) and various trade associations such as Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM), The Timber Exporter’s Association of Malaysia (TEAM) and many more. She is frequently interviewed by the media and professional bodies such as China Press, Bernama, The Edge, CPA Australia and etc.

She has also provided oversight on many tax investigations and tax audits with the Inland Revenue Board and Royal Malaysian Customs Department. Shin holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Melbourne, an MBA from University of Nottingham, and is a member of CPA Australia and MIA. Shin’s vision is to make YYC Group the No.1 world-class accounting firm that originated from Malaysia via innovation.

LaLiga Santander Matchday 12 preview:The Basque Derby between Real Sociedad and Athletic Club takes centre stage

The midweek round of goals and dramatic LaLiga Santander action is over, but there’s another dose of top-flight Spanish football coming up straight away as Matchday 12 takes place this weekend. There are several fascinating games, from Valencia CF and Villarreal CF’s derby to FC Barcelona’s first match of the post-Ronald Koeman era to the first Basque Derby of the season. It promises to be a thrilling weekend of football in Spain’s top flight.

The first match of the round is Real Madrid’s trip to take on Elche CF at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero, a stadium where the Franjiverdes held the Blancos to a draw last season. That is the early game on Saturday, at 14:00 CEST, with Carlo Ancelotti’s side looking to get back to winning ways after being held to a midweek draw at home to CA Osasuna. Meanwhile, Elche CF will hope to catch Real Madrid napping in this early kick-off.

The next fixture is a clash between Sevilla FC and CA Osasuna, with the Andalusians boasting a 100 percent record at home so far this season and the Rojillos having won four and drawn one of their five away matches so far. It’ll be interesting to see whether the excellent home record or away record is extended.

A big derby match then follows, with Valencia CF taking on Villarreal CF at Mestalla on Saturday evening. These two clubs have had disappointing starts to the season, so will be targeting a win in this hotly anticipated Valencian Community clash to jumpstart their campaigns.

FC Barcelona then return to action at 21:00 CEST on Saturday night for their first match since the sacking of Ronald Koeman. That came when the Blaugrana lost a second match in a row in midweek, falling to Rayo Vallecano after also losing ElClásico three days earlier. The fans at the Camp Nou will expect a response from the players, now led by caretaker coach Sergi Barjuán, as they host a Deportivo Alavés side who have won their past two games. There is great expectation as a new era kicks off at Barça.

On Sunday, Cádiz CF will look to get back to winning ways after a series of disappointing results when they host RCD Mallorca in the first match of the day. Likewise, champions Atlético Madrid are hoping to bounce back from two 2-2 draws in a row when they host a high-flying Real Betis side that actually come into this fixture with more points. Diego Simeone has enjoyed eight wins and one draw from the nine times he has coached in this fixture, although he’ll have to experience his 10th home match against Real Betis from the stands due to a suspension.

Getafe CF then take on RCD Espanyol in southern Madrid, with the Azulones still searching for their first victory of the season. They came so close to claiming it in midweek, only for a 97th minute goal to deny them the three points and leave them with just a point from their trip to Granada CF. Against one of his former clubs, new Geta coach Quique Sánchez Flores will hope to achieve that much-needed first victory.

Then comes the game that takes centre stage in Matchday 12, the first Basque Derby of the season. It’s Real Sociedad vs Athletic Club under the Reale Arena floodlights, with so much on the line given that La Real come into this fixture as league leaders. Athletic Club will be determined to take three points from their rivals’ home to knock them off top spot and dent the Txuri-Urdin title challenge, as they did back in 2002/03, the last time Real Sociedad mounted a serious title challenge. This fixture is always special and this Sunday’s game should be no different.

On Monday, there are two more matches in Spain’s top flight, with Rayo Vallecano looking to keep up their 100 percent home record in the first of them. The team from Vallecas have won all five of their matches played so far in the Madrid neighbourhood, including Wednesday’s victory over FC Barcelona, and now they’ll host RC Celta Vigo this Monday evening. That’s before Levante UD vs Granada CF concludes the matchday, with both these sides entering the weekend inside the bottom four and in need of some valuable LaLiga Santander points.

Watch LaLiga Santander live this weekend on BeINSports

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Real Sociedad vs Athletic Club: A Basque derby at the heart of the title race

La Real face one of their toughest challenges yet, with Athletic determined to derail their rivals’ title challenge.

Real Sociedad have enjoyed an excellent start to the 2021/22 campaign, responding to their opening weekend defeat at Barcelona by stringing several wins together and climbing to the very top of the LaLiga Santander standings. The team from San Sebastián finished Matchday 8 and Matchday 9 in first position, announcing their title candidacy after several seasons of evolution under coach Imanol Alguacil.

This weekend, though, Real Sociedad have what may be their toughest test yet. They have the Basque derby against regional rivals Athletic Club on Sunday night, under the floodlights at 21:00 CET. It should be a special occasion in front of their home fans at the Reale Arena.

The side from Bilbao have had a good start to the season too and are just a few points behind the title challengers with a quarter of this LaLiga Santander campaign in the books. Marcelino has built a solid team in his 10 months on the job and they have only lost one match so far this season. If Athletic had turned some of their draws into victories, they too would be pushing for first position in the table.

With both Basque sides so high up the table, this will be one of the most important Basque derbies in several years. Real Sociedad fans are starting to dream of a first LaLiga Santander title since their back-to-back championships of 1980/81 and 1981/82, while Athletic Club supporters are convinced that this is the season they’ll return to Europe after a four-year absence.

Historically, this fixture has often been at the heart of the title race. The last time La Real were serious title challengers, in 2002/03, Athletic Club thrashed their rivals 3-0 in Bilbao when La Real were top of the standings, with this result ultimately costing the Txuri-Urdin and allowing Real Madrid to sneak that year’s championship by two points.

Spooling further back, to when Spanish football was dominated by these two clubs at the start of the 1980s, Real Sociedad won the league title in 1981/82 by defeating Athletic Club 2-1 on the final day of the season, before Athletic Club earned a 2-1 title-clinching derby win of their own two years later.

This weekend’s match won’t be so decisive, whatever the result is, as there is a long season still ahead. But, this might still be the Basque derby with the greatest title race implications in several years.

Athletic Club’s motivation for revenge

The players will be well used to the pressure, given that arguably the most important Basque derby ever took place earlier this year. On April 3rd of 2021, Athletic Club and Real Sociedad met at La Cartuja in Seville for the 2019/20 Copa del Rey final, a showdown that had been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That only increased the sense of expectation for this huge derby final.

Neither team wanted to lose, but somebody had to and, with Mikel Oyarzabal’s penalty proving to be the only goal of the game, La Real won the cup to end a trophy drought that had lasted since 1987.

Athletic Club will want some revenge for that heartbreaking loss when they take on their historic foes this weekend. They actually had a rematch just days after the cup final, which finished 1-1, but now Los Leones will relish the opportunity to deal Real Sociedad’s title aspirations a significant blow.

Besides the potential for revenge, Athletic Club will want to triumph in this weekend’s derby so that they can remember the winning feeling as they haven’t tasted victory in any of the past four matches against La Real. In addition to the draw and cup final defeat of April, Athletic Club lost the previous two Basque derbies. Not since August of 2019 have they won one. For the fans in Bilbao, that’s too long.

Familiar faces on both sides

While Real Sociedad and Athletic Club’s rivalry is one of the biggest in LaLiga Santander, there is always great respect between these teams and the players. Even if it’s still quite rare, at least at the senior level, some players even switch clubs and there will be a few participants this weekend who have experience of wearing the other colour of stripes.

In the Real Sociedad squad, starting goalkeeper Álex Remiro moved directly between Bilbao and San Sebastián in 2019, signing with La Real after his contract at San Mamés expired. He’ll know the Athletic Club forwards well and will hope to put his inside knowledge to good use.

As for Athletic Club, they pulled off a coup in the winter window of 2018 by signing Iñigo Martínez from their rivals through the triggering of the star centre-back’s release clause. That didn’t sit well with fans of the Txuri-Urdin, nor does the fact that current Athletic Club players Alex Petxarroman, Yuri Berchiche, Mikel Balenziaga and Dani García have Real Sociedad pasts too. 

This Sunday night, though, it’s all about the current colours as the blue and white stripes of Real Sociedad take on the red and white stripes of Athletic Club.

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