Football: Tampines Stags fans pay for key AFC Cup clash at National Stadium, but rival S-League fans watch for free

Tampines Rovers players training ahead of the AFC Cup clash against Selangor to be held at the National Stadium on May 10, 2016.
Tampines Rovers players training ahead of the AFC Cup clash against Selangor to be held at the National Stadium on May 10, 2016. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

As Tampines Rovers prepare for the biggest match of their season so far, there is unhappiness from both the S-League club's fans as well as supporters from rival clubs.

The Straits Times has learnt that, while Stags fans have to pay for admission for the crunch Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup match against Selangor at the National Stadium, the S-League has instead given out complimentary tickets to fans of rival clubs.

This has created mixed reactions among both sets of supporters.

A 35-year-old Tampines fan who wanted to be known only as Anizah said: "I feel it's a bit unfair that the fans of other clubs are getting to watch the match for free.

"What's the point of them going if they don't support Tampines?"

Tampines fan club member Zand Zainal also shared similar concerns, saying: "The way the complimentary tickets are distributed to other clubs' fans instead of the loyal and supportive Tampines fans is unfair.

"It's a pity to those who support Tampines have to pay $10 to watch the game."

A rival S-League club official, who declined to be named, added: "It is unfair that the S-League is pulling out all the stops to help Tampines.

" Not only are they giving out hundreds of tickets to the clubs, they are providing buses to ferry our fans to the National Stadium.

"They even asked the other clubs to promote the match on their social media platforms, and gave us posters and flyers to distribute."

Some rival fans, do not mind watching a free football match at the National Stadium even though it is not their clubs playing.

Said Geylang International fan Stanley Wong, who will be watching the match with 10 others, courtesy of complimentary tickets from the Eagles' fan club: "I'm watching the game as a football fan. The tickets were given out free and it's at the National Stadium, so why not?

"Also, we're excited to see our ex-player Fabian (Kwok) play, so hopefully he starts. He's well-respected by the Geylang fans."

Balestier Khalsa fan Salleh Suni added: "As a Singaporean, I'll want to see Tampines do well and go far in the AFC Cup.

"Tampines are representing Singapore and it's my duty to support anything that's local football."

The Football Association of Singapore declined comment.

Besides Tampines, Balestier also have a crucial tie today as they travel to play Hong Kong's Kitchee. Third in Group F on seven points, the Tigers' progress is dependent on the other group game's result between New Radiant and Kaya FC.

Despite being Singapore's other AFC Cup representative, Balestier's matches were not promoted with the same fanfare.

Their chairman S. Thavaneson declined comment on the lack of publicity, adding: "I choose to only focus on the matters of my club. We are also in a do-or-die clash and are just focusing on playing well ."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2016, with the headline 'Stags fans pay for key clash, but rival fans watch for free'. Print Edition | Subscribe