Football: Singapore tech firm Sea takes ownership of Home United; club changes name to Lion City Sailors FC
SINGAPORE: Singapore Premier League (SPL) side Home United has changed its name to Lion City Sailors Football Club ahead of the new season after undergoing a change of ownership.
Singapore technology firm Sea, formerly known as Garena, has assumed full ownership of the club, with its group chief executive officer Forrest Li to serve as chairman of Lion City Sailors FC.
Sea is the parent company of Shopee, Garena and SeaMoney.
“Sea is proud to be a Singaporean company, and we are proud to play our part in elevating Singapore football to the next level,” said Mr Li in a press release on Friday (Feb 14).
“By uniting with a club with a rich heritage, exceptional fans, and a great organisation, we intend for Lion City Sailors to set a new benchmark for footballing excellence in Singapore and the region.”
Garena had previously been involved in a sponsorship deal with SPL side Young Lions in 2016.
The two-year deal, worth S$4 million, was the largest deal for a club in the history of the league. It included a S$2 million cash sponsorship, with the other S$2 million set aside for the team's developmental programmes.
“As a passionate fan myself, I know that Singapore has a huge community of people who love football, and our hope is that Lion City Sailors will strengthen that passion and ignite a new era for the development of the game locally," said Mr Li, who is also founder and chairman of Sea.
"We look forward to supporting the development of Lion City Sailors and guiding this great club into a new period of success."
Calling the project a "significant milestone for the league", Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong said the FAS had "complete confidence" in Sea's ability to lead the club.
"This pilot project is a significant milestone for the league as it enters its 25th season and marks a historical chapter that could potentially shape the future of the professional football landscape in Singapore," Mr Lim added.
"Sea has a proven track record of building and managing successful businesses, and the FAS has complete confidence in their ability to steer the club to new heights.”
Home United have won the domestic league twice, with their last title win coming in 2003. The club finished six last season.
“We are proud of all that the club has achieved over the years, and proud to pass the baton over to Sea, a company that shares our passion for football, commitment to community, and focus on achieving success," said outgoing club chairman Winston Wong.
Under its new ownership, Lion City Sailors FC will be targeting domestic silverware and a place in the AFC Champions League, it said.
The club have been active in the off-season, appointing former Australia skipper and Adelaide United tactician Aurelio Vidmar as head coach, as well as signing national team players Hassan Sunny, Gabriel Quak and Shahdan Sulaiman.
Lion City Sailors FC will begin their SPL campaign with a home clash at the Bishan Stadium against defending champions Brunei DPMM on Feb 29.