Fans split on idea of shared premises

The move will see only four stadiums, including Our Tampines Hub, hosting regular matches.
The move will see only four stadiums, including Our Tampines Hub, hosting regular matches.PHOTO: ST FILE

Fans of the Singapore Premier League are divided on the move that will see all local clubs share stadiums from next season.

The move will see only four stadiums host regular matches - Our Tampines Hub (Tampines Rovers and Geylang International), Jalan Besar Stadium (Young Lions and Hougang United), Bishan Stadium (Home United and Balestier Khalsa) and Jurong East Stadium (Albirex Niigata and Warriors FC).

"In principle, I'm opposed to this move simply because Hougang Stadium is clearly the spiritual home of Hougang United," said Mervin Tan of fan group Hougang Hools.

"We fans take a pretty purist point of view in terms of supporting the club we love."

But he says that travelling to another stadium will not diminish his support for the Cheetahs.

"I don't live in Hougang but I support the team because of the character of the team, and the semangat (spirit) that they show," he added.

"Fans live across Singapore and it really isn't a problem travelling in the country but, really, we did name ourselves Hougang United because we are based in Hougang."

The Ultras Eagles are Geylang's unofficial fan club, and Stanley Wong, who leads the cheers at the Bedok Stadium, is looking forward to the move to Our Tampines Hub.

"It will enhance fan experience. It's a nice stadium, there are several other facilities and even a hawker centre in the same building," said the 43-year-old, who believes Geylang could attract more fans because of the large crowds often present at the multi-sport facility.

"I can take the kids to swim, have a meal, and then go for a match; it can be a whole-day affair."

But he is acutely aware of just what is being sacrificed.

He said: "Bedok is an old stadium, and its pitch is in really bad condition and not ideal for professional football, so it makes sense to move.

"But I'm not sure if it's the same for other clubs, who may lose a bit of their identity because their home is where they engage with their community.

"Geylang have always been associated with Bedok. There's a strong connection there, and it will be great if we can move back to Bedok some time in the future."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline 'Fans split on idea of shared premises'. Print Edition | Subscribe