Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Singapore to impose tough new regulations on fans

Following on from the crowd trouble that marred the recent AFF Cup semi final between Singapore and Vietnam I understand the Singapore authorities have been looking at ways to ensure the scenes are not repeated. In addition they have been looking at how they cam encourage more fans through the turnstiles at SLeague games.

The SLeague are very concerned about domestic attendances and are looking to introduce a number of measures next season to both improve the atmosphere inside the stadium as well as put more bums on seats. ‘Value for money’ is the key says one anonymous official while at the same time maximizing match day income.

Players have long complained about seeing fans wearing replica shirts of non Singaporean teams and the SLeague is set to crack down hard on this. One leading player said ‘it’s insulting when you run out on the pitch and see spectators wearing Chelsea or Manchester United shirts. It’s demoralizing.’

And it’s a sentiment echoed throughout the corridors of power.

Yusuf bin Kidin is a football consultant and he has been heavily involved in the talks that have centred on the path Singapore football needs to take in the future.

‘Plain and simple,’ he told me, ‘we need fans in the stadiums. But we need fans that contribute to the development of the game of football. Not just a bunch of moaning ninnies who get upset when they lose money.’

'We want to work closely with the young fans who come to games and write about games. We want to identify new fans and generate a new fan culture in Singapore and if that means taking ideas from other countries then so be it. But we're still Singapore and any new ideas will have a uniquely Singaporean twist.'

From next season spectators seeking to enter domestic games in Singapore will be required to pay a surcharge if they are sporting a non Singaporean football shirt or they will be refused admittance. ‘You don’t go to see Liverpool and see fans wearing Home United shirts do you?’ said my source. ‘We want to encourage a new breed of fan proud to support their local side. Forget the EPL, support Geylang or Gombak.’

The move is likely to meet resistance from the fans but authorities are unrepentant. ‘Why should we be ashamed of what’s on our doorstep. People can still support other teams, they can still go to London or Milan or whatever. But in Singapore we ask they put the local game first.’

At least one fan contacted me to express his virulent opposition to the proposed move. ‘It’s stupid lah.’

The league also has its eyes on supporter’s clubs. After watching a couple of games in Indonesia my source told me to expect a wholesale revamp. ‘These supporters clubs are too molly coddled. They get cheap tickets, sit down, eat chicken rice and send text messages to their mates while ignoring the game. Why we give them subsidy?’

Before the next season the league are looking to bring over some representatives of Indonesian supporters clubs and have them give workshops on how fans can do their bit to improve the atmosphere. One spectator isn’t convinced. ‘Not good lah. I get driven to the game, I get told to stand up, sit down, get given song sheets and food lah, why change?’

Why change indeed? Maybe because, as one player told me, the atmosphere at Singaporean games sucks?

The workshops will include presentations and movies where local fans will be shown how fans overseas can generate an atmosphere that doesn’t sound rehearsed. ‘If someone doesn’t tell me when to cheer, how will I know?’ asked one concerned fan.

My source is adamant. ‘We want to create an atmosphere inside stadiums here like we had in the Malaysia Cup days.’

One way to achieve this is the League will start branding certain fixtures. Tampines v Geylang United will be the East Coast Derby and will be promoted as such in local media. ‘Enough politeness in our stadiums, we want more venom,’ my source explained.

Members of the local Celtic and Rangers supporters clubs will be invited to give talks to the fans of different clubs where local supporters will be encouraged to engage in mindless hatred and bigotry during the football match. ‘When there’s a better atmosphere on the terraces more fans will come.’

Geylang fans were nonplussed with one asking ‘what’s a derby?’

The FA and clubs are looking into schemes where fans who buy their tickets in advance will get a discount. ‘Clubs need cash flow so it makes sense to have revenue trickling in nearly every day and not just on matchdays. Why not reward fans if they commit themselves before the game?’

There will also be no more free tickets for fans. ‘Football is a business. At the moment we have people who go to every game saying they support Singapore football but they demand free tickets. That’s not supporting the local game. That’s sad. If they want to support the game, buy tickets, bring friends but don’t just turn up at the stadium and say look at me. I’m a friend of football. Let me in free.’

If they don’t want to buy tickets there is another option. ‘The crowd trouble in the Vietnam game really embarrassed Singapore and we hope to never have to witness that sort of behaviour again. If these regular fans don’t want to buy tickets for games they can still get in free. They can become matchday stewards. With their unparalleled knowledge of the game and culture locally they will be a great help in ensuring spectator’s safety at matches.’

Fan X isn’t so keen on the excited. ‘Wah, dangerous lah. Maybe get hit by people. Not fair. You know, when nobody goes to games I always turn up and bus fare expensive lah. If must buy ticket as well better stay home lah.’

There is much work to be done off the field to improve the atmosphere inside SLeague stadiums but at least these proposals show football in Lion City is heading in the right direction.

hahaa why isnt this posted on April the 1st?
i d have forgotten by then!
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