Saturday, 31 December 2011

Singapore fans worried S-League may get affected badly

Singapore football fans yesterday urged supporters not to abandon their embattled domestic league as the country prepares to re-enter competition in neighbouring Malaysia.

Local supporters’ group ‘Lions All The Way’ will hold a roadshow in the busy Orchard Road shopping district this weekend to promote the 12-team S-League, whose attendances have hit an all-time low after a spate of scandals.

The group fears the S-League will become overshadowed by the Malaysian Super League, in which a Singapore representative team will play for the first time in 17 years from next month.

“We want Singaporeans to give the S-League a chance. After all, this is the league that produces players for the national team and the team that will play in the Malaysian league,” said the group’s founder Arief Aditya, 22.

“We need to put more focus on the S-League. No top footballing country has  a poor local league,” he said.

Singapore will be represented in the league by LionsXII, a selection of  national Under-23 and senior players, after an agreement this year ended nearly two decades of rocky relations with Malaysian football authorities.

Singapore were a stalwart in the Malaysian league until 1994, when they walked out in a dispute over gate receipts.

The return has been welcomed by fans and media, but it may deal another blow to the S-League which has suffered scandals involving match-fixing,  financial irregularities and on-pitch brawls. Average attendance has slipped to about 1,000.

The FA of Singapore was not available for comment. The  city-state, with a world ranking of 145th, has a dearth of home-grown talent with several foreign-born recruits playing for the national team.

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