Football: S-League chief Lim Chin tries to ease concerns about ASL

S-League CEO Lim Chin speaking at the S-League Awards Night held at ITE College East, Simei, on Nov 9, 2014.
S-League CEO Lim Chin speaking at the S-League Awards Night held at ITE College East, Simei, on Nov 9, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

Players, fans and officials have all voiced their concern over the Asean Super League's (ASL) imminent kick-off next year, and how it might take the spotlight off the S-League.

After all, there has been a buzz around the domestic league in the past few weeks, thanks to the returning LionsXII footballers, as well as the signing of former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant by Tampines Rovers.

But S-League chief executive officer Lim Chin, who said the hype around the league is among "the best" he has seen, tried to allay the naysayers' fears as the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) works out how the domestic league will fit alongside the ASL.

He told The Straits Times: "We are very concerned about what our key stakeholders are worried about... and we'll all work together to find the right formula for Singapore football. All views will be taken on board as we move forward... and figure out how the whole ecosystem fits together."

He also hoped clubs can follow Tampines' lead and gun for big-name signings. Cost is an issue - Pennant reportedly earns $40,000 a month, more than 10 times the average S-League salary for a local player.

But Tampines have secured close to $1 million in sponsorship to help defray some costs, and Lim hopes "other companies will take the leap (of faith) and come in to Singapore football in subsequent seasons".

Only then, he said, can Singapore football "make the big leap forward (and) attract fans".

Lim was speaking at the unveiling of Mitre as the official football and product supplier to the S-League.

The five-year deal will see Mitre provide footballs for the S-League, Prime League, Singapore Cup, League Cup, Centre Of Excellence League, National Football League and Island Wide League matches.

Mitre also supplies footballs to England's Football League, from the second-tier League Championship to League Two, and Scotland's Professional Football League.

For this season, S-League players will be booting the Delta Hyperseam ball that features a textured surface to enhance control.

The new ball will make its debut at the league opener on Feb 13, when defending champions Brunei DPMM play League Cup and Singapore Cup winners Albirex Niigata in a match which doubles up as the Community Shield.

Alfred Toh, general manager of Teamwork Sports LLP, Mitre's licensee for Singapore and Malaysia, said: "We believe we are providing the S-League teams with a ball that will allow them to perform at their very best during the season."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Lim tries to ease concerns about ASL'. Print Edition | Subscribe