Don't make S-League play second fiddle

The adage that a national team is only as good as its national league is a truism that well-ranked footballing countries fully believe in ("Unknown ASL hardly the answer to local football's problems"; last Thursday).

A national S-League playing second fiddle to a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) club side and relegated to a feeder role creates spiritless, disillusioned teams of depleted strength, and would lead to a poor supply of good players to represent the national team.

A club is a private entity and exists primarily to win honours in its own league. It is hard to believe that these clubs, which are struggling to remain solvent, would spend all their resources only to have their players siphoned off by the Asean Super League (ASL).

A league without any stars or high-profile players will not attract fan support. It will be missing the anticipation, curiosity and excitement which these players could whip up to draw the crowds.

The ASL, understandingly, could be a platform to showcase our best players and provide the catalyst for domestic league players to perform at a higher level.

There are more lucrative benefits to be reaped, as well as public acclaim, which could, perhaps, draw more youngsters to take up the game as a career prospect.

But only when there is a fluid transfer of players between the ASL and the S-League, such that players can return to play for their clubs during ASL days off, is there hope for the S-League to attract enough crowd support for subsistence and survival.

George Pasqual

FORUM NOTE: The writer is co-founder and former president of Tampines Rovers Football Club, and a former Football Association of Singapore council member.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2016, with the headline 'Don't make S-League play second fiddle'. Print Edition | Subscribe