Have private equity players invest in S-League clubs

It is rather sobering to read about the depths to which the S-League has fallen (Hope for S-Beleaguered; Feb 26).

It is indeed difficult to maintain a professional S-League when the players have to worry about their livelihood.

Poor regional performance by S-League clubs breeds cynicism, ridicule and lack of interest.

This, in turn, discourages sponsors from stepping forward, which leads to a shortage of funds to attract and develop talent.

This then perpetuates the poor performance in regional competitions. It is a vicious circle.

With its 22-year history and assortment of silverware that players - playing in the national team - have brought home over the years, it is worth viewing our S-League clubs as distressed assets with the potential to be turned around to generate positive cashflows.

The management expertise of private equity or PE players in Singapore working pro bono and in good faith might help to achieve this.

Tapping their network, the PE players could raise funds to be invested in each S-League club specific to covenants customised for each club.

For instance, clubs could be permitted to purchase overseas marquee players, extend players' contracts or give pay raises if specific performance milestones are achieved.

The good results so obtained will generate better football and excitement to bring in the crowds and merchandise sales, generating an investment return for the PE players.

It is not too late for us to collectively find new, creative ways to preserve our S-League.

All we need is to put on our thinking caps and tap the gotong royong Singapore spirit.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2017, with the headline 'Have private equity players invest in S-League clubs'. Print Edition | Subscribe