Wednesday, October 19, 2016


More Tales Of Woe From Singapore

Truth be told I have all but given up on the SLeague. Albirex Niigata winning the title completes the foreign club domination of Singapore football with the Japanese side also winning the League Cup and preparing to face off against token local side Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup Final later this month.

As if overseas based clubs wiping the floor clean on the pitch isn't enough to feel down in the dumps about Singapore football other news in recent weeks must have made even the most rose tinted fan feel despondent.

Daniel Bennett (38) and Mustafic Fahruddin (35) have been in fine form this season without doubt and deserve their recall to the national team ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships later this year. But what does it say about the young players coming through? Are the development squads of Young Lions and below that bereft of promising young players Sundramurthy must go back in time to plan for the future?

You can almost here the despair in the voice of local legend R Sasikumar when he says some of the players in the national team are 'mediocre'.

As if that were not enough to have local fans dusting off their EPL replica shirts and turning their back for good on the local product Tampines Rovers, the nearest thing Singapore has to a glamour club, announced all its players were free to leave at the end of the season and for the 2017 campaign they would not be paying salaries of more than SG$2,500.

Way to go Stags! Bring in Jermaine Pennant on a reported SG$20,000 a month, sign up half of the LionsXII team, get Gerard Houllier to 'act' as a club ambassador, get Ronaldinho in for some selfie opportunities then decide there is no more money left.

With cash so hard to find the club announced they wanted no more to do with fruit machines, an important source of income for SLeague clubs who are incapable of marketing themselves. Apparently the Tampines owner thinks they are immoral because they encourage gambling. And his is right of course. They do. But unable to source cash from other areas why switch off the only tap they have?

It wasn't that long ago Australian smokers could cough themselves to an early grave safe in the knowledge their money was helping the national football team, known as the Winfield Socceroos, wave the national flag in foreign lands. There was no one else willing to stump up the cash.

But needs must when the devil farts in your direction and Tampines don't have many options when it comes to raising money if they do little about developing a fan base. Morals are all fine and dandy and we all should have them. But they are generally a middle class luxury. A starving vegetarian may overcome his qualms about a hamburger if there is sod all else available.

While the Stags plead poverty and put a dampner on their end of season run in Hougang United announce they have made a profit and are even returning some cash to the FAS (not investing in players?). How can Hougang, arguably a smaller club than Tampines, make money? Them darned fruit machines, that's how.

Foreign clubs cleaning up domestically. Veterans recalled to save their country again. Tampines need a begging bowl. Nope, there isn't much to be cheerful about in Singapore these days.

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