Football: Lion City Cup off

Football: Lion City Cup off
Local fans will not get to see young talents, like Corinthians’ Leo Jaba (above, in white), from around the world strut their stuff at the Jalan Besar Stadium this year, after the tournament failed to secure a title sponsor.

The youth teams of some of the world's most illustrious football clubs have strutted their stuff at the Lion City Cup over the last three years, after integrated sports marketing agency Red Card Group revived the tournament in 2011.

Singapore youngsters like Adam Swandi, Mahathir Azeman and R Aaravin have starred at the tournament, and the likes of Brazil's Flamengo, England's Arsenal, and Holland's Ajax Amsterdam have sent their juniors to do battle here.

The Under-16 tournament has been a popular success, but it will not see a fourth consecutive instalment this year.

Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, R Sasikumar, the managing director of Red Card, which organises the tournament every June, said the Lion City Cup will not go ahead this year.

"This year's tournament is off because funding and support could not be obtained in time," he said.

JEOPARDY

The New Paper had reported on May 7 that the tournament was in jeopardy earlier this month (see inset), due to time constraints and organisational issues.

Red Card's three-year deal to organise the tournament ended last year and Sasi said his company had submitted their plans, including the request for additional funding, to Sport Singapore a few months ago.

Sport Singapore (previously known as the Singapore Sports Council) had allocated six-figure sums for each of the last three editions of the tournament.

Said Sasi: "(Sport Singapore) told us to revert to the old model of going through the FAS (the Football Association of Singapore) for our request for funding.

"But by that time, it was too late. There was no time to secure broadcast or a title sponsor."

The request for additional funding is in part due to the fact that the tournament no longer has title sponsors, after electronics manufacturing giants Canon did not extend their three-year deal last year.

Red Card had already lined up the youth teams of three clubs from Europe - France's Paris St Germain, Germany's Borussia Dortmund and Spain's Espanyol - to participate in this year's edition.

They were awaiting confirmation from English side Tottenham to complete the six-team line up, alongside the National Football Academy U-16 and U-15 teams.

When contacted by TNP, FAS spokesman Gerard Wong, said: "The FAS is exploring the possibility and feasibility of staging the Lion City Cup later this year.

"We will issue a statement on this at an opportune time."

Sasi, however, has already steered his focus towards next year's tournament, which, he said, will be difficult because Singapore will host the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games from June 5 to 16.

"We have to re-visit the possibility of a Lion City Cup event next year, but it has to make commercial sense first," said the former national defender.

"The idea is to make it happen, but it takes a couple of other parties too, not just us."

aakasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 27, 2014.
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