Thursday, November 06, 2014


SLeague's Latest Revamp

The SLeague at times seems less like a football association and more like a bunch of graduates from a business school using trendy business type jargon to sound knowledgeable in their current job. They like hubs, they like leverage and they like to connect.

And they like revamps.

Next season the SLeague will have 10 teams, down from the current 12. Tanjong Pagar United are withdrawing for a season because they have no money, much like Gombak United did a couple of seasons back. 

There is a recording on line that purports to have a football official explaining to the players and staff at Tanjong Pagar what is going on which is nice but it becomes very difficult if you are a professional to have some guy saying 'you must understand...' It sounds very much more like a lecture or some dear leader explaining to the plebs how things are and must be. Understand?

Woodlands Wellington and Hougang United are to merge. To be known as what is not yet clear. 

Apparently 10 is better suited to Singapore's demographic. Eh? I dunno. Read the first paragraph again...

Three of those teams will be foreign teams from Malaysia, Brunei and Japan so 30% of the league can win it but not qualify for any Asian club competition. Actually that is 40% if you add Young Lions, a Singaporean development team.

One argument for having less teams is the remaining clubs will be stronger...the best players are snapped up by LionsXII or Johor Darul Tazim. The rest are shared around Tampines, Home and newly crowned SLeague champions Warriors. The remaining clubs will be left how they have always been hoover up the scraps no one else wants or has no space for.

As is often the case with revamps they come across as ideas scribbled down on the back of beer stained napkins in a coffee shop somewhere in the heartland by people looking to tick boxes and use the jargon they imbibe so effortlessly.

Reducing the number of clubs in the SLeague will not encourage more fans to watch games. Are there going to be less games? What do you think? Nope, probably what will happen will teams will play each other four times in the SLeague, probably meet in the League Cup and the FA Cup and who knows, arrange friendlies against each other as well. And this will increase the quality how?

We have just seen the conclusion of another thrilling SLeague season with the title race going down to the wire yet again. What are the powers that be doing to promote that excitement? What are they doing to bring more fans in beyond offering free tubes of potato crisps or cinema tickets?

Another wheez e being decreed from on high is a limit on the number of players over the age of 30 clubs can play. Agism anyone? And clubs will be encouraged to find promising young foreign players to fill their ranks. Because, umm, this will make the game more appealling?!

Title races that go down to the wire are exciting but what is the leagie doing to increase awareness about that? What are the marketing people doing to get people into the stadiums? What is being done to change the mindset that has many Singaporeans think Liverpool are still a big club? Has anybody been to India to see how they are promoting the Indian Super League?

As has been the case, another revamp is just another excuse to be seen doing much but actually doing very little. And until that mindset changes then no one has much hope of changing other people's mindsets.

And that is a shame because Singapore football does have promise. It has some good smart people operating around the edges. Perhaps it is time to bring them on board? Shorn of KPIs who knows, they may even have some new ideas?

Yeap, some technocrats come in, use the latest buzzwords - soon to be stale - mess up, and leave to be replaced by another bunch of clueless technocrats.

It's the performance appraisal system in Singapore: come up with inadequate - halfbaked, short term, expensive - plans that are not efficient in getting real results, such as increasing spectators, passionate fans, revenues, etc. but very efficient in making sure the planners get their performance bonuses.

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