S-League: 'My performance...satisfactory'

S-League CEO Lim Chin (centre) with footballers Shahril Alias (left), from Woodlands Wellington and Prakash Manikam from Warriors FC had their upper bodies painted in the colours of S-League club jerseys

Before Friday's kick-off to the 2014 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season, CEO Lim Chin looks back on his two years in charge and urges corporations to champion clubs.

1

What are some of the highs and lows you've experienced as chief executive officer of the S.League?

The satisfaction I've got is from making things work and seeing things come to fruition.

We've had some disappointments in that we've had some good ideas, but haven't been able to follow through with them due to issues on the ground.

We've had some successes, though, like our initiative to give out potato chips in neighbourhoods, the S.League Superbabes, even the push-cart stalls that we put in place of the merchandise store that was initially planned.

2 

What would you say is the key factor in luring fans back into S.League stadiums?

There is an important correlation between the quality of football and fan interest, but it may not be a direct correlation.

People remember good football and great goals - and even a 100 per cent effort from players - but ambience inside the stadium is important.

It can make a dull 0-0 draw exciting, if fans get into things.

On the pitch, we're quite happy with the formula that we have implemented, especially the marquee-player initiative (clubs can sign one foreign player without the salary cap of $10,000 and the S.League will assist in monetary terms).

It's off the pitch that we can do better.

And we're making moves to implement things like match programmes, clappers, mascots and even throwing in various deals to go along with ticket purchases in our effort to bring fans to stadiums.

3 

What is the most critical off-the-pitch initiative that has been tabled?

We need corporations to come in, not only in terms of sponsorship, but also to play a bigger role, to perhaps adopt or champion clubs. That's our short-to-medium term goal.

I know it's something that's been tried in the past, but maybe we haven't tried hard enough.

I think last year's potato chip initiative has had some success, as have our school outreach programmes - I really appreciate the effort that clubs put in to increase attendances last season.

4 

What more do you think needs to be done to take the S.League to the next level?

If you look at all 10 local clubs today, they are better managed and are more financially stable than they were 10 years ago.

Clubs are not completely staffed yet, but I'm happy with how professional, proficient, committed and capable their (administrative) personnel are.

I'd like to see the players be more professional in all aspects - become fitter, for example. From there, the league can improve.

5 

With some local players leaving for the LionsXII and Malaysian clubs, and the new youth-development initiative seeing only Home United,

Warriors FC and Balestier Khalsa run a Centre of Excellence (COE) programme - down from eight clubs last year - is there a danger the talent pool in the country will shrink?

I think having only three clubs run Centres of Excellece is better because we can put more resources into these three clubs instead of spreading it across the league.

There are dedicated staff at the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to oversee this. The COE syllabus is in line with the national football philosophy and the number of players in the scheme will be about the same as before. This is the best we can do with the limited resources that we have.

I think the COEs will be able to churn out enough good players for all clubs in the future.

6 

You joined the S.League as CEO in January 2012. How would you rate your performance as the S.League prepares to enter its 19th season, and what would you implement if you had absolute freedom to change?

My performance? Satisfactory.

Obviously I'd like to do better in everything that we do and make our programmes more effective.

I would like to privatise the S.League and have corporations back all clubs. It is a model that has worked in several countries and is something that will lead to improvements in all facets - from stadiums to team rosters, and even media interest and television deals.

That's right at the top of my wish-list for the S.League.


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