Football: Lions on AirAsia

The Lions are the reigning champions of ASEAN, but their strategic plan aims to push Singapore into the top 10 of Asian football.

One more piece of the puzzle was added on Wednesday when the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) inked a sponsorship agreement with Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia.

The three-year deal worth $1.8 million is a fillip for an ambitious FAS.

As part of the deal, all teams under the banner of the FAS - from the national side to the LionsXII and right down to the age-group sides and women's team - will fly AirAsia when they leave Singapore shores.

"Without a doubt, we are latching on to a great bunch of dreamers here (at FAS) and we hope to be part of that success going forward. Aim high, have a vision and do something great for Singapore football and, for me, that's the most important thing," said AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes on Wednesday.

"You don't always do things just for the commercial angle... the reason I got involved was the passion shown by the FAS...and what it is doing with the youth."

Flying AirAsia is not the only benefit for local football.

The partnership is an open one with "no fixed rules". The whole idea is to gain maximum leverage from the strengths of both parties.

With his finger in motorsports, English second-tier side Queens Park Rangers (QPR), as well as ticketing agency RedTix, Fernandes is willing to open all his channels to the FAS.

From sending young players and coaches for stints at QPR, to tapping on the capabilities of RedTix and even helping out the S-League, AirAsia is willing to listen to the FAS.

While the Malaysian business czar is expecting some backlash from north of the Causeway for going to bed with the FAS, it will not bother him.            

Making sense

He said: "There are going to be negatives and sceptics, but who cares? We did it, and as long as it makes sense for both of us, and the youth benefit from it - great.

"It also shows that we are not just Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia; we really see ourselves as ASEAN and I am a big believer in ASEAN.

"This is probably our biggest and most in-depth deal. What better way for us to show our ASEAN credentials than by sponsoring the Singapore national team?"

Elite footballers are not the only ones who will benefit from the agreement, with AirAsia offering discounted travel packages for travelling Singapore fans.

Said AirAsia chief executive V Loganathan: "People still perceive that we are working out of Malaysia, even though we have several flights from Singapore.

"We want to convert the heartlanders (in Singapore) - we want to create awareness and football is a great vehicle for that."

"The FAS has lots of dreams, I have lots of dreams. Most people laughed at my dreams, but we built something. For me, I've got my name on a Singapore jersey. It's worth signing a deal just for that."

- AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes (far right, with Lions captain Shahril Ishak) believing the FAS is a kindred spirit because it dares to dream

AirAsia-FAS deal

Three-year open partnership worth $1.8 million, with the possibility of other partnerships

All teams under the banner of the FAS will fly AirAsia

Potential training stints with English second-tier side Queens Park Rangers for young footballers and coaches Possibility of extending the partnership to include the S-League

Discounted fares for fans travelling to support local teams at away games

In celebration of the partnership, AirAsia is offering $0* base fare to all its seven destinations in Indonesia - namely Bali, Bandung, Jakarta, Medan, Makassar, Semarang and Surabaya.

The promotion is available for booking today till 28 July 2013, for travel from 20 Aug to 10 Nov 2013.

*Fare refers to base fare and for one way only.

Airport taxes and fuel surcharges apply from $45 to $52 one way. Promotional seats are limited and may not be available on all flights, public holidays, school breaks and weekends.

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