Almost five years after former captain Alam Shah asked FAS to expand the S-League fan base and widen its commercial and marketing appeal, what have we achieved?
Why are we still struggling to fill the seats – both for S-League games and international matches?
Why haven’t we done anything to raise the marketing profile of our top players? Where are the endorsement deals for our young players – not only to supplement their meagre income but also raise their profile on the regional stage?
Have we succeeded in attracting the likes of Del Piero, William Gallas, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey or Daniel Guiza to play at our stadiums? No, we did not. Instead, these players who starred for their countries at recent World Cups turned to the leagues in Australia, Thailand and Malaysia. Why so?
Despite the much-talked about success of the Class of 2012 at the AFF Cup, why are we still struggling to attract sponsorship dollars? Real dollars, and not in-kind donations or sponsorships which any marketing personnel will attest are not difficult to secure, especially from organisations which always have leftover products and items anyway.
I share Mr Ang’s concern that FAS is not doing much to reach out to the corporate sponsors. In the first place, do we even have marketing professionals within FAS? If not, does FAS really believe that the C-level decision makers from the banks, telcos and F&B industries will be persuaded to park their dollars in the sport just because we are now Asean champions? Asean, and not even Asian!
We may not have the physique of Iranian players or speed of the Koreans but surely our administrators should be well-positioned to think more in-depth than their Asian counterparts? After all, this is a country which has achieved many ‘bests’ in various industries including transportation, academic, governance and research.
While I cannot fault our players for not being able to match their Asian counterparts, I do feel that our administrators need to bear some level of responsibility for the current state of football in this small country.
The likes of Bahrain and Ireland – countries which boast small populations – have succeeded at the world stage. Thus, a small pool of talent cannot be an excuse anymore.
If anything, I am inclined to believe that our administrators either have gotten complacent or perhaps they are just running out of ideas to boost our standards. Do they even know how to market our players? Perhaps, just perhaps – after all this is a forgiving society – it is time to shape up. Or ship out.
Mr Ang and Alam Shah were not the first to raise their concerns, and they certainly would not be the last. Question is: are they listening? Or let me rephrase: do they have what it takes to boost the appeal of this game and popularity of our players?