Football: AFC to send experts to help S-League

AFC general secretary Windsor John acknowledges that Singapore faces unique challenges because the player base for the S-League is not big.
AFC general secretary Windsor John acknowledges that Singapore faces unique challenges because the player base for the S-League is not big.PHOTO: MARCUS TAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will lend a helping hand to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) as it bids to revamp the struggling S-League.

To kickstart the revival of the Republic's only professional sports competition, the continental governing body will hire consultants, at its own expense, to study the league and make recommendations on how to improve it.

This initiative was announced yesterday evening by AFC general secretary Windsor John at a press conference at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The FAS executive committee comprising president Lim Kia Tong, deputy president Bernard Tan and vice-presidents Edwin Tong, Razali Saad, Teo Hock Seng and S. Thavaneson were present.

John, who assumed his role in 2015, met FAS council members for two hours yesterday and has pledged to assist in the S-League's revamp.

Key to this project is finding the right expert to advise the FAS.

"We (the AFC) have a wide range of experts. We also have an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Uefa," John said, referring to European football's governing body. "I will go back and discuss with the AFC who are best suited (to help the FAS).

STEP BY STEP

Even before we come to the model (of the revamped S-League), we have to do a proper assessment. ''

WINDSOR JOHN, AFC general secretary, on the process required to help FAS revamp the S-League.

"Even before we come to the model (of the revamped S-League), we have to do a proper assessment. We need to send the right people to come over to make an assessment.

"Singapore is unique - it is small and its player base is not big. It's good that the experts can come over to make proposals on which is the right model for Singapore."

Tong appreciates the input from the AFC. He said: "It (the revamp of the S-League) is a key decision, a heavy decision that could affect the future of Singapore football.

"AFC's help is timely and we can see immediately that AFC has perspective. And it is important for them to study our system and study our local needs."

Although there is no firm timeline of how this study of the league will be executed by the consultants, Lim is aware of a particular deadline.

He said: "We are fully mindful of the requirement from SportSG to come up with a plan (for the S-League) some time in August."

In January, the national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced that it would manage the disbursement of the FAS' annual subsidies from the Tote Board in a move to streamline its practices. The subsidies are reportedly worth $25 million annually.

The FAS is set to meet SportSG officials in two months to discover the quantum of its funding for the next financial year.

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2017, with the headline 'AFC to send experts to help S-League'. Print Edition | Subscribe