Fans rank ‘familiar’ S-League over MSL

Fans rank ‘familiar’ S-League over MSL

It may not be played in front of capacity crowds, or boast the same sort of intensity that come with leagues having teams with storied rivalries.

But, according to The Straits Times' online English Premier League fan survey, the Great Eastern-YEO'S S-League surprisingly ranks ahead of the Malaysian Super League (MSL) in terms of popularity among local football fans.

In fact, of the 3,046 respondents so far, 2,013 of them - or 66.1 per cent - ranked the MSL, won earlier this year by Singapore's LionsXII in their second year of participation, as their least favourite of a list of nine leagues.

The result is surprising given that the MSL has consistently attracted crowds of about 6,000 a game, while the S-League average gate for last season is about 900.

Fans told The Sunday Times that they chose the S-League over the MSL because of familiarity, with the local league into its 18th season this year.

Said Ashley Goh, a 34-year-old human resources manager: "I used to watch every Malaysia Cup match but now I'm not so familiar with the players.

"I read about the S-League more than I do the MSL, so it's something I'm more familiar with."

Some respondents admit that, when asked to choose between the two leagues, patriotism trumps rivalry. Said Leo Jianhui, a National University of Singapore undergraduate: "I'm a supporter of local football and I like to see how our players perform.

"I do follow the LionsXII's results, but not as closely," added the 23-year-old Tampines Rovers fan.

Jimmy Lye, 54, agreed. "I don't really follow local football but if I had to choose between the S-League or the MSL, I would rather support Singapore football."

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