Thomas Vivian Montet interview

Interviewer: Will Manila Montet still finish the season if they lose all games?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Yes, I can guarantee you that. Of course, we would love to win games but, as I already explained in my interview just before the start of the season, we were expecting to be last or close to last. Feel free to read it; it’s still on our Facebook page. It would be a miracle if we could build a football club from scratch without any financial support from external shareholders and be competitive from the start. We would enjoy scoring more goals and getting our first points, but it’s okay if it doesn’t happen. People who think we will not finish the season because we lose do not really understand how our club works or what our mission is. Financially, we may well be the most stable club in the PFL even though we have no external support like other clubs. Finance is what we are best at, so we know how to manage the budget and ensure the club is financially sustainable.

Interviewer: What is your vision as a club?

Thomas Vivian Montet: The goal has always been the same since the start, but maybe it’s worth repeating it for the non-fans. We have established a non-profit company called Montet Sports that owns Manila Montet FC. The mission of Montet Sports is to give local players a chance to compete and to promote football in the Philippines. These are very challenging missions. When we first started our concept of prioritizing local players, many people in the industry told us that was a bad idea because there aren’t a lot of quality local players. Our counter argument is that if we don’t give them a chance then how would they become better? We also work very hard on marketing to bring people to the stadium. Seeing Rizal Stadium empty, even for big games like Stallions or Kaya, saddens me. It’s a reminder that quality football alone isn’t enough to fill the stands. We need to create a club and football culture where fans feel a sense of belonging, and where parents bring their kids to games, inspiring the next generation of fans and players. More interest in football leads to more people playing and better players emerging.
Interviewer: How is the atmosphere inside the club?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Well, it could be bad considering the results, but we had many friendly games before the start of the season and lost basically all of them except one against a non-PFL team so we knew the season will be long and hard for us. Players, coaches, and staff get along well. I, myself, attend training sessions and games and talk to players and coaches often, so I feel closer to them. They are great people, so even if we lose, we lose with the people we love.

Interviewer: There have been talks on forums about players’ allowances…

Thomas Vivian Montet: I must admit, I don’t follow online chats here in the Philippines because, well, half of the time it’s in Tagalog and unfortunately, Google Translate doesn’t cover Tagalog well yet! But some of my staff and players have filled me in on what’s being said, and they were not happy. It seems there’s been quite a bit of misinformation circulating. Like many other clubs, our players receive varying packages. Some have more favorable deals than others, and by the way, this is not always fair for some when you see the performances, but we are learning on this as well. Some of our players just get allowances while the luckiest get full accommodations, including food and 200 PHP per day on top of it. They have to come to 3 or 4 trainings of 2 hours a week plus the game day; nothing more. We do not feel it is such a horrific deal. On the other extreme, we have a couple of reserve players without an allowance, but we also have the largest squad in the PFL with 40 players, so it is kind of logical. And do not assume that a player with no allowance does not cost a club money. Of course, we give less than clubs like Taguig FC or Kaya FC, but many clubs in the PFL don’t provide any allowances at all. If there’s a misconception that average PFL players are paid 100,000 PHP per month or more, unfortunately, there’s little we can do to address that. We can just tell you that this is not the case.
Interviewer: Who decides allowances and packages for players?

Thomas Vivian Montet: It used to be me, management, and coaches who determine how much players get paid. But now, I am implementing a board to assist with this process. Why? In business school, we learn that incorporating different opinions helps in making better decisions. The board includes individuals from outside the Philippines, who watch games online. They don’t have personal relationships with the players, so they can provide fairer assessments and different perspectives.

Interviewer: How much money does the club receive from TV rights given the good audience numbers for the club, and why this money is not used to raise the players’ allowances?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Well, that’s simple because we receive 0 from TV rights.

Interviewer: How much money does the club receive from PFL?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Zero.

Interviewer: How much money does the club receive from the city of Manila?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Still zero.

Interviewer: Why do many people talk about Manila Montet in live chats even during games that don’t involve them?

Thomas Vivian Montet: I have heard that several times, and honestly, I have no clue. I assume it’s because we have a strong identity. The issue we face is that everyone knows us and talks about us, while our performance on the field is not matching our popularity. So yes, that’s not the perfect combination. But we are very happy that so many people know our name! There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Interviewer: A few people make jokes about AI doing all your marketing?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Yes, this always makes us laugh. I even heard some people calling us ChatGPT FC or something like that, which is brilliant and it really helped boost our popularity so thank you. We have never made a secret that we use ChatGPT only to improve the reading experience. We have a team of people finding ideas and writing articles every day and once done we use ChatGPT to revise the text for typos and grammar. If it were that simple as asking AI to do our marketing, then other clubs could have done the same. Big thanks to my marketing team because I see the work behind it, and that is amazing.

Interviewer: Why do you sit in the bleachers at each game while you have VIP seats?

Thomas Vivian Montet: We choose to sit with the fans because this is where the experience is best. We enjoy mingling with people and altogether we cheer for our club. When people sing for our team, it brings us immense joy, especially considering our results. It means a lot to my wife and me.

Interviewer: Do you pay the fans in the bleachers to come to the games?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Haha, no, we are making everything to be financially stable, so paying the roughly 60 people on average we get per game in our fan zone would not make any sense. The only thing we do is to make it more fun for them to attend by organizing certain games, including a lottery where they have the chance to win 1000 PHP at each match. It’s our way of thanking the fans for their support. So yes, we spend a little bit of money on the fans, but we’re not paying anyone to come. We have roughly 50-60 fans coming to the bleachers at each of our games, even when it’s crazy hot. That’s still not enough for us, but compared to other teams, that’s way better, especially if you consider our position on the table!

Interviewer: What business and income does your group have from the Philippines?

Thomas Vivian Montet: 100% of our money comes from our businesses outside of the Philippines. The Philippines is where we spend part of that money on investing in some Filipino companies, supporting financially poor children who excel in school through our charity, and running our football club. We don’t profit or take advantage of anyone in the Philippines for the sake of our businesses. We only try to give back to the local communities as we feel fortunate to live in this wonderful country and to be in the position where we can help. We would appreciate it if people knew about our mission and who we are, to avoid misunderstandings.

Interviewer: Any final thoughts?

Thomas Vivian Montet: Thank you to the people who understand what we are trying to achieve and send us such kind messages. You are the reason why we are pursuing this project. It requires a significant amount of time, money, and endurance (especially when we’re not winning games), but it’s all worth it for those few moments of joy. When we interact with the fans or witness our players smiling, we feel fulfilled because happiness is the most important thing in life.

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