Thursday, September 9, 2010

Overhaul of 2011 S-League Season

[dated 9 Sep, updated 23 Dec] edits are in blue
Today's editor Leonard Thomas has said it right. "Zainudin can invite current and potential sponsors, ex-players, officials, fans and even members of the media, among others, for a brainstorming session. It wouldn’t hurt — it could throw up some interesting suggestions, maybe even a masterstroke. Whatever conclusion the decisionmakers at football headquarters come to after the last week, it is clear something decisive needs to be done, before the SLeague does slip into a crisis."

Yes these stakeholders will be the one who will tell you the problems, not those in the JBS office.
It seems that every September/October the past few seasons, we are always discussing how to solve problems and discussing forever.
Thats why this time, I am putting my head on the chopping board - to come up with solutions for the main problems.

The Crux Issue: Dwindling attendance/lack of support/awareness

The biggest problem we are facing now is the situation of a lack of support/awareness of the league. In the event of this, I say changing just the league's software is not enough. A $500K/month 'star player category' Park Ji Sung will still be mistaken as the $5k/month 'normal foreigner' Park Kang Jin at Orchard Road.
We need some change in the hardware of the league.

Proposed Solution (A) : Change of match schedule
Assuming 12 team, average 6 matches/week

Proposed kickoff times:
1 x Wed – 730pm
1 x Fri – 730pm (live)
2 x Sat – 515pm, 730pm
2 x Sun – 515pm, 730pm (live)

It is simple logic. We already have limited fan support for the local league. Why further limit this supply of fans by playing so many games on weekdays when Singaporeans live their hectic lifestyle? Which bloodly league in the world plays every day throughout the week?
My idea of 2 games on Sat & Sun each. This would give chance for people to catch games on wkends. Families can watch games together before or after dinner, providing options than to throng shopping malls or showflats. Have cheaper packages for family of 3,4 or 5 perhaps.
We should not contest with the EPL for fans since its going to be a one-sided affair. Hence the option of 515pm games. This allows a 2 hr break for a 10 or 11pm EPL game on telly, assuming you give up the early kickoff EPL game. Anyway not all EPL games on telly are good right, so OUR league will offer another option - a REAL 'LIVE' experience.
515 game save floodlight costs too as game should end at 7pm. Should be bright enough still.

Telecast game on Sunday live on Ch 5. People who laze around at home on Sundays can watch it, rather than some lousy movies.

Keep the Friday night live games. Its the end of the week and more likely to attract students/working population.

Sat games, after the increased media exposure measures stated in the next section, should be the benchmark to test if they have yielded results. They MUST draw crowds, especially if there are no big EPL games.

A game on Wednesday to make up the quota, which allows for teams to have enough rest between each round of games.

Live games must be meant to publicised the league and get crowds to the stadium eventually.

Proposed Solution (B): A 'fireworks' Curtain Raiser to kick off the season on a Sunday

515pm: YOG team vs Singapore U17 or U18
730pm: S-League East vs S-League West

Aim is to use the fame of the YOG team as an attraction, introduce crowds to the U17/U18 team. This will draw their friends, families and Singaporeans who followed the YOG football games. After that game comes the main show, splitting the SLeague club teams evenly into a East vs West matchup, just like in year 2000 at Bishan Stadium.

Introduce the 'star' players before the East v West game ala NBA finals style - Player run out waving to fans.

Make Straits Times have a 1 page coverage of the curtain raiser evening.

Proposed Solution (C): Teams to adopt a few neighbourhoods towns as in 1996


To get residents to back the team that plays in the vicinity of their homes. Make it THEIR team. There is a reason why hardcore Tanjong Pagar and Sembawang Rangers fans exists that call for their return. Its because they identified with THEIR clubs. This take time to build and must be cultivated.

In 1996, clubs were somewhat set a geographic sector to try reach out to fans. But this was not closely followed.

Get players out to shopping centres of all their neighbourhood towns/bus/mrt interchanges to raise awareness before the season kickoff, and maybe once or twice more along the season.

Have tie-ups with neighbourhood shopping centres within the vicinity. Liase with landlords like AsiaMalls (Hougang Mall) or sports related tenants like Sportslink. Advertising efforts could be put up in within the tenant space or centre itself to publicise upcoming fixtures and posters of certain more established players who can be used as 'ICONs' for the football team.
In return, billboards of these brands and shopping malls can be put up or even be attached on the team's jersey.
Players must realise the importance of raising their own profile and reputation. That is the way that they can attract potential brands to engage them as ambassadors and perhaps to increase their own playing income as they become more well known.
CCCs and RC leaders and members could be rope in to help, rather than just wasting time having useless meetings and enjoying catered buffets afterwards.

Proposed solution (D): Ticketing issues

Recently, there have been calls for free entry to be given to the public for Sleague games. I feel that this should not be so.

This also cheapens the Sleague and make people think lowly of it. Singaporeans have the mentality that things which are free means not tat good. SO it only spoils the image.
My suggestion is to perhaps reduce the $5 entry to $3. Since clubs have said that income from this source is not major, I think that lowering it slightly can perhaps motivate masses to give it a try. As mentioned earlier, FAMILY PACKAGE could be made available for wkend games.

My reason is that sometimes, even I admit that you go to matches not sure of what kind of quality you will get. With respect to a $7 movie ticker, Singaporeans might think $5 is kind of expensive if there is not much entertainment value. Thus, I would think lowering the tickets first, try improve things on the pitch, and raise the pricing as we continue OUR local league.

Additional amendments to current measures:
i. shift Highlights programme to say weekday night 10 or 11pm
ii. work harder to bring in better foreigners, improve pitches
iii. identification of the 12th team as 'Somebody' must go

Mr Zainuddin, if you let the media and fans out there know that you are willing to set up a meeting with the matchday Sleague media and fans to discuss our suggestions with you personally (since we are people on the ground). I have no doubts your meeting room will be filled. Let us know the time and venue. We do not need catered buffet, light refreshments will do.

*Opinions are welcomed.


  1. Yup. You have less media coverage of S league compared to ten years ago. The league is becoming too confusing to follow or support. And I want my Sembawang Rangers Back!!!

  2. 10 years ago is a long time. It was a real different story previously as the hype of the league was still there, which is not the case now.

    Think its difficult to get the Rangers back. Why not throw your support behind the Woodlands Rams? they do have a decent team though results ahve not been going well for them.

  3. I once had a chat with a club official on his club's grassroots involvement which I think I blogged two years ago.

    He said they have aggressively going out to get themselves involved, but on a few occasions their efforts were not reciprocal with these "grassroots" folks.

    Some feedback I gathered that's also down to how the clubs themselves are involved, as being a football club they thought by conducting some coaching clinics are deemed sufficient FULL STOP.

    There are also some cases that some clubs cant be bother because of the priority issues and read that there are players NOT keen at all to get involved in this community outreach events.