I always see lessons for Singapore football in the English football leagues, and much can be learnt from them.
Second-tier Championship side Leeds United will return to the top flight of English football next season (Leeds ready to soar once again, July 20).
That Leeds United fans have been doggedly supporting their club despite years of underachievement - the club went into administration and was relegated to the third tier of English football in 2007 - shows the importance of fans to a club's success and staying power, and fan engagement is obviously a huge part of that.
According to a study done by Canadian customer relationship intelligence software company Vision Critical, for instance, sports teams need to step up their game to more effectively engage their fans - only a third of fans were found to agree that the sports teams they support actually engage them by listening to their opinion.
Engaging the fans is important as it is what enables sports teams to measure and increase brand value, to develop a brand image that resonates with the fans, and is the driver behind stadium attendance and ticket and merchandise sales.
International consultancy Gensler also found that it behoves sports teams to connect with the fans beyond just a great match-day experience - for instance, through apps and other forms of round-the-clock online engagement, and by giving fans something to be proud of, which could be a great stadium with positive vibes or giving back to the local community.
Fans want to be engaged by their sports teams at deeper decision-making levels, and want to have a say on matters concerning team and game-related issues.
Fans of Singapore football have long expressed that they want to experience more engagement from the league (Fans want to see more engagement, Nov 6, 2018).
As national football coach Tatsuma Yoshida has articulated, we are on the same team (Yoshida hails front-line workers as 'Lions', March 27), and with the restart of the Singapore Premier League season soon to be under way, Singapore football can grow from strength to strength with the unequivocal support of delighted and fully engaged fans as the 12th man on the team.
Woon Wee Min