Strong funding, patronage count towards football honours

Singapore fans cheering on the Lions during match against Malaysia at the Causeway Challenge at National Stadium, on Oct 7, 2016.
Singapore fans cheering on the Lions during match against Malaysia at the Causeway Challenge at National Stadium, on Oct 7, 2016.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

There is no question that engaging fans, the quality of a team, brand enhancements and regular digital media communication are relevant to the popularity of a football club, (Engage fans and make local football great again, May 16, and First, give fans quality football, May 18).

This would require financial resources and backing from prominent personalities. It is erroneous to believe that modern-day football clubs can build up a large fan base solely on know-how, true grit, dedication, volunteerism and hope... and be successful.

For example, the success of clubs like Salford City of the UK, Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT), Brunei's DPMM, Albirex FC Singapore, a satellite team of Albirex FC Japan, shows how financial support and eminent patronage have been the main drivers.

Salford City is sponsored by billionaire Peter Lim, and DPMM by Brunei's Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, and Albirex by its Japanese home club and Canon Corp, and JDT is owned by Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim of Johor.

Lesser-known amateur club Salford City has now been promoted to the professional national football league, JDT is the first Malaysian club to win the continental AFC Cup and five consecutive league titles in a row.

DPMM has its eighth consecutive season in the top flight of Singapore football and is now heading the Singapore Premier League table.

These accomplishments are undoubtedly the fruits of resourceful funding and backing, and astute and pragmatic management. If our football clubs can receive sustained sponsored support and adequate dynamic press coverage, as in the days of the Singapore National Football League and Malaysia Cup, building up a fan base and achieving competitive success will not be a distant dream.

George Pasqual

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2019, with the headline 'Strong funding, patronage count towards football honours'. Print Edition | Subscribe