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Football: S.League kicks off 2014 with new suite of changes

All S.League matches for the 2014 season will now see detailed statistical analyses with the aim of helping coaches and players raise standards, among a host of innovations that will be introduced in this new season.

SINGAPORE: All S.League matches for the 2014 season will now see detailed statistical analyses with the aim of helping coaches and players raise standards.

This is among a host of innovations that will be introduced before kick-off on February 21.

Other improvements include an enhanced match experience for fans and the possibility of staging this year's RHB Cup finals at the new Sports Hub.

For starters, 10 new-look mascots for all clubs, including Japanese team Albirex, will be new additions at local stadiums to engage fans at their respective clubs' home matches.

Fans can savour a host of other freebies such vouchers for cinema tickets.

"For fans who pay for tickets, we are hoping to enhance the experience by giving them vouchers, maybe of cinema tickets, the value of the vouchers or the freebie bag is possibly better than the S$5 they paid for the match," said Lim Chin, CEO of S.League.

There will also be food theme nights -- with the first 500 fans getting free ice-cream, hotdogs or donuts.

Clappers could also double up as a match programme or even as a fan to keep fans cool.

On the field, the marquee players scheme is set to continue.

More intense competition was already seen last season, with smaller clubs pulling off quite a few upsets. And play could be further improved in 2014, with the help of technology.

"We are going to introduce statistical analyses for every game that is played in the S.League. And this will be delivered to the clubs,” said Mr Lim Chin. 

“The… statistics of the game… help the coaches (with) what is happening (during) the match, so that (they) can analyse the data and the team can do better."

Focus on player fitness continues, as players are expected complete the 2.4km run in 10 minutes, down from the 10 minutes 15 seconds in 2013. 

But the CEO admits that bigger structural changes are needed for long term sustainability.

"We still continue to try, to get corporations from Singapore to come in and support the League in not just by name, but by actions to adopt a club,” he said.

“If we can see in some of the regional countries where big corporations are naming the clubs and running the club, I think that is the way to go for the League.

“If our League will be a bit more structured… I think the promotion-relegation can take place and evolve."

As for venues, Jalan Besar Stadium has been been re-turfed and more stadiums are in line for refurbishments.

The League is also negotiating to stage the finals of this year's RHB Cup at the new Sports Hub, as well as the opening match of the 2015 season.

S.League says that crowd attendance has already seen an upward trend. On average, about 1,200 fans attended a match last year -- a rise of about 39 per cent from the previous season.

With all the new initiatives being introduced, organisers are hoping that the numbers will continue to rise.  

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