But exactly what legacy will Tan leave behind when he does eventually call it a day, besides that vast out-of-place red stand that towers above all other sections of the stadium? The latest financial figures, running up to May 31, 2016, shows that the 65-year-old was happy to write-off another loan payment of £10m, on top of a cash injection of £7m, to help keep the club financially stable.
The figures may be eye-watering, surpassing the £100m mark when it comes to payment still owed to Tan, but a plan is clearly in place to bring that figure down over the next half-decade. Tan announced in February 2016 that he intends to convert the outstanding money into shares, with various barriers currently preventing him from doing so.
Recent comments made by boss Neil Warnock also suggests that Tan is prepared to hand over a favourable transfer kitty in the summer, paving the way for a serious promotion push for the first time since dropping back into the second tier of English football.
Yet while Tan can be applauded for helping to keep things ticking over, many will feel that the damage has already been done; damage that saw more than century worth of history thrown down the pan on the whim of an overzealous money man, who acted like a kid in a sweetshop.
Hundreds — thousands, even — made the instant decision to walk away and have never returned in the years since, turning down the lure of Premier League football — the carrot on the end of Tan’s stick when announcing his proposals fresh on the back of a play-off defeat to West Ham United in the 2011/12 campaign — and instead completely falling out of love with the game.
Whether Tan learned his lesson in the months between his initial decision to revert to red and subsequently go back to blue, or did simply take the advice of his mother as he claimed at the time, we may never properly know. One thing that is for certain, though, is that the Malaysian now cuts a periphery figure in South Wales, seemingly too caught up in his other business interests.
Tan, you see, now has four plates spinning, sharing his time between clubs in Wales, Belgium, Bosnia and the United States, on top of the day-to-day running of his non-sporting empire. From a man who openly admitted to having little knowledge of football when taking the plunge into the world of ownership in 2010, to a worldwide-known figure who is now looking to make an impression on two continents, the City chief has certainly come a long way.
The next chapter in Tan’s story could prove pivotal in the history of Cardiff City Football Club. While being quick to deny suggestions that he was close to selling the club this month, he did make clear that offloading is certainly not out of the question if the right offer is tabled.
“For the record, I have no plans to sell any of the clubs but if I am offered the right price, I will certainly consider,” he said. “I have always publicly said that except for my family, all my businesses are for sale at the right price. I do not fall in love with my businesses.”
Family man first, businessman second. You see that is often the problem with overseas backers — an inability to truly fall in love with a football club. You cannot really blame them. Unlike a supporter, who has been brought up on craving success and what is best for their local side from a young age, an owner from 11,000km away will not hold it in the same regard. It is, in every sense of the word, a business.
Should Tan indeed decide to call it a day in the coming months, prior to converting those outstanding shares to equity, the mood will very much be mixed. Some refuse to forgive him for what he did five years ago, while for others he has slowly made amends by taking more of a backseat role and putting plans in place to potentially leave the club debt free.
Ultimately, though, the reception given to Tan when he does step aside will likely reflect the mood surrounding the club at that given moment. Right now, there is a sense of indifference around the Cardiff City Stadium, even if Warnock has tried his best since coming on board to galvanise the fanbase once more. There is only so much one man can do to reverse the mood of thousands of people, after all.
If Tan was to fund another promotion push, however, taking the Bluebirds back into the top flight and this time keeping them there, it could lead to a mutually beneficial scenario. New, interested parties looking to take on a fresh investment; Tan able to cash-out and focus on his other business models; and fans given the chance to look back on his near-decade-long tenure in a more favourable light.
The buzz that promotion- or indeed success of any other kind — brings to supporters is hard to replicate. Going up five years ago was not quite the same for supporters, it is fair to say, with the fanbase divided and long-serving Bluebirds deciding to walk away on the eve of arguably their club’s greatest-ever season.
Now it is over to Tan to fund that push for promotion and get fans back in seats once more. The controversial owner may not love Cardiff, and will never do so, but leading a drive for the top flight is the only way that this on-off love affair will conclude with a truly peaceful ending.