Improving S-League must come first

After the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) held its annual general meeting, I was hoping to hear news of a revamp of the S-League and that the focus would go back to building a strong foundation.

Instead, I was saddened to learn that the FAS is focusing on a regional league ("S'pore to benefit from ASL, says FAS"; Dec 30, 2015 and "Don't make S-League play second fiddle" by Mr George Pasqual; Tuesday).

Why is the FAS choosing to go in this direction?

Every nation needs to build its own domestic league. This is the starting point from which a strong pool of players can grow from the children's level to schools, to clubs, to the professional league, and then fight for a spot on the national team.

Stakeholders from the grassroots, communities, schools, academies, sponsors and fans can come together to make it work.

With proper marketing and sportsmen in clubs, a sustainable football economy can be built.

The FAS' plan to get a select 25 players and keep them together for a regional league is a bad idea.

This concept is akin to a top-heavy, bottom-weak organisational structure, which is bound to collapse. It builds the national team around these players, ensuring that they are part of the elite team even though half of them do not get to play.

There is also a salary distortion compared with players in the clubs, which has led to the FAS subsidising their salaries now that they are signed with clubs.

This is certainly an ill-conceived approach. It is appalling that we are pushing through this concept again.

Addressing the S-League should be the priority. Let us refocus the S-League and send the top S-League club to the Asean Super League (ASL).

This will help bring back fans and stakeholders, and take Singapore football to a much higher level.

Alvin Tan Chee Ping

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Improving S-League must come first'. Print Edition | Subscribe