Football: S-League CEO Lim Chin to step down on March 31

S-League CEO Lim Chin will leave the organisation at the end of March after five years and three months. As for operational matters, Kok Wai Leong, the S-League's director of operations, will hold the fort.
S-League CEO Lim Chin will leave the organisation at the end of March after five years and three months. As for operational matters, Kok Wai Leong, the S-League's director of operations, will hold the fort.TNP FILE PHOTO

Some say he did well despite the constraints, others feel successor needs to revamp league

The professional game in Singapore football will have a new man at the helm, after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced yesterday that S-League chief executive officer Lim Chin will be stepping down.

The 54-year-old, who took over the position in January 2012, will leave his post on March 31.

The FAS has not named a replacement for Lim, but said in a statement that Kok Wai Leong, the S-League's director of operations, will "oversee the operations of the league" when it begins next month.

FAS interim president Lim Kia Tong added: "A CEO job has always been very challenging, and it will continue to be so.

"The S-League definitely cannot change overnight, even if we change the whole team in the FAS, the S-League will still face challenges."

UPHILL TASK

He couldn't really create magic for the S-League. There's not much he can do because he joined the league when it was in decline.

'' R. SASIKUMAR, former national defender, on the limitations Lim Chin faced.


GOOD LEADER

It will be a loss for Singapore football. He's someone who has the experience and he's a professional, amiable and a nice person to work with.

'' KRISHNA RAMACHANDRA, Tampines Rovers chairman, on Lim's contributions.

While some among the local football fraternity have expressed surprise at the announcement, given some speculation last week that he would be appointed for another year, others were less so.

Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson said: "It's a difficult task in view of the obstacles we face, such as financing, spectator support. (Lim's) done his best."

R. Sasikumar, a former national defender and managing director of sports marketing agency Red Card Global, added: "It's expected. He's run the course already.

"He couldn't really create magic for the S-League. There's not much he can do because he took over the league when it was in decline."

Another club chairman, who declined to be named, said his impending departure is ill-timed.

He said: "The timing of this transition is not very ideal as there are still plenty of uncertainties among the league."

However, they acknowledged Lim's contributions. Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra said: "It will be a loss for Singapore football.

"He's someone who has the experience and he's a professional, amiable and a nice person to work with.

"While we respect his decision to move on, we can now benefit from a new set of ideas."

Thava agreed, saying: "He built a close rapport and relationship with the clubs through regular meetings.

"Rather than having all the clubs pulling in different directions and even when we disagree, we find common grounds to agree upon. That can only take place when he keeps in close touch with the clubs.

"Football wise, he's elevated the spectator interest and crowds with various promotional activities."

Kok, who was the general manager at Singapore Armed Forces FC (now Warriors FC), is seen as a familiar and safe pair of hands too.

Said Ramachandra: "He's a capable man, he's got a lot of experience, he would know the demands we have.

"I hope his hands will be full - of new initiatives, new ideas. He needs to think out of the box."

Some feel that regardless of who replaces Lim Chin, stiff challenges await his successor.

Sasikumar added: "We need someone with a bit more vigour, energy and creativity. As a product now, even if you bring the best guy in, it's also not going to change much because the product is clearly not working.

"So whoever that takes over needs to give it a good thought, and say, 'This is what the format was, now it's time for a complete makeover.' Hopefully they use this as transitional year."

Lim Chin and Kok could not be reached by press time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2017, with the headline 'Lim to step down in March'. Print Edition | Subscribe