Football: Standard of football still most vital: SportSG CEO

Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief Lim Teck Yin speaking at the launch of Singapore Football Week (SFW) on July 13, 2017.
Sport Singapore (SportSG) chief Lim Teck Yin speaking at the launch of Singapore Football Week (SFW) on July 13, 2017. PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A re-organisation of S-League clubs according to geographical locations or even by GRCs could be a good idea, but the revitalisation of the league has to begin with its core product - the standard of football.

This was the message from Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin ahead of a meeting with the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) executive committee later this month, when the FAS will present its game plan for Singapore football to secure funding for the next financial year.

"What's important is that we collectively want to see the standard of football grow through a domestic league," said Lim on Sunday.

"I don't think we look at it as just drawing geographical boundaries, but as building a relationship between S-League clubs and a community, and I think that's a good thing."

Tying S-League clubs to distinct geographical blocs had been among a number of ideas mooted by FAS president Lim Kia Tong, deputy president Bernard Tan and vice-president Edwin Tong during a round-table session held in The Straits Times' newsroom earlier this month.

However, SportSG chief Lim pointed out that many professional sports teams' fan bases are not limited by geography.

He cited the Australian Football League (AFL) as an example, with half of the AFL's 18 teams being located in the Melbourne metropolitan area alone.

"The fact that you coincidentally have a name in common (with the community) helps in the introduction, but it cannot end there," said the 54-year-old.

"Teams have to be very clear what they stand for and what is their appeal to a particular fan base. The players, the team, the standard of football, the way they reach out to the schools - these are all factors."

Lim also provided a glimpse of SportSG's main considerations going into the FAS meeting.

He said: "We want to see that the domestic league is more sustainable from the perspective of both its sources of funds. It cannot always be from the government.

"Also, we want to see that there is indeed a very clear return on investment, especially when you link it back to the national team."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2017, with the headline 'Standard of football still at crux of matter: SportSG CEO'. Print Edition | Subscribe