SINGAPORE: Twenty-two years after its founding, Singapore's professional football league is changing its name as part of efforts to revive its ailing fortunes.
The S.League will now be known as the Singapore Premier League (SPL), the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said on Wednesday (Mar 21).
“The Singapore Premier League brand brings the local context to the forefront, emphasising that the league is for Singaporeans, by Singaporeans,” said FAS president Lim Kia Tong at the logo unveiling held at the Singapore Sports Hub.
“As the only professional sports league in Singapore, the SPL bears the responsibility to set the standard and to be a product that acknowledges the stature of its position in Singapore,” he added.
Other than the league’s previously announced youth quotas for its local teams this season, the SPL aims to bring more fans back to the stadia.
“One of the things we’re doing this season is to upscale some of the infrastructure at our stadiums,” said FAS vice-president Edwin Tong.
“We’re going to make sure that the stadium announcement system is improved. We will also shortly have jumbo-tron screens at every SPL stadium and it will improve fan experience.
“That’s on the hardware side of things, but on the softer side we want to close the gap between the clubs and schools a lot more," he added.
“We will talk to the MOE and see how we can make the schools more affiliated with the clubs so that there will be a feeder system of sorts.”
INCREASING CLUB RIVALRIES
The move to involve the schools aims to tap into rivalries, elaborated Tong.
“When School A is part of a club and School B is also part of a club and they are rivals, they will bring that rivalry over,” he said.
“We want to have that feature in our pre-match games where school teams from affiliated clubs will face each other before the actual league match itself. When schools come, their parents, uncles and aunties would come and we want to generate community interest.“
“We are also looking to tie up with community centres so that there can be more visibility of our players who can be a big part of their respective communities,” he added.
Tong also revealed that more clubs will get to play some of their league matches this season at the National Stadium as part of their tie-up with the Singapore Sports Hub.
Hougang United, Warriors FC and Geylang International will play in May, while Home United will play one of their matches there in June.
INCREASED FAN ATTENDANCE AS A KPI
Tong expressed his hope that the initiatives will bring back the crowds. “The Key Performance Indicator for us is to ensure fan engagement is sustained and sustainable. If not improved, then at least kept at a good level,” he said.
“Also, if I can point to at least three or four young jewels that emerge - where it gets people talking - then I would say that we would have had a successful season.”
The season opener on Mar 31 will be the first litmus test, according to Tong. “It’s hard to give a number of fans we’d like to attract, but let’s use Mar 31 as a gauge. Last year there were about 15,000 fans for the Charity Shield, and if we can improve that by 20 to 30 per cent, then that’s a good sign,” he said.
“Then throughout the season, hopefully we can push the attendance of games – specifically those at the Sports Hub – higher.”