Wednesday, 14 November 2012

S League Players' Musical Chairs

It’s the time of the year yet again where you see the S League players play a few rounds of musical chairs with different clubs, which means the local transfer season. Good players will be poached, while luckier players may just get enough chance to stay in the game to be called professional players. Unluckier players probably will just have to hang up their boots and "retire", whom they may be only in the mid-twenties or younger.

It is actually quite a sad case looking at the S League transfer market although the product has been around for so many years. From my personal perspective, football is a profession which is the same as white collar jobs. However, plying their trade in S League would not give them enough job security. Most of the players are basically on short term contracts of about 2 years, and what happens after that depends heavily on a few factors:
                  1.       Their skills
                  2.       Wage demands
                  3.       Clubs’ budget

The economics of the transfer policy might be the same worldwide however, it will heavily kill off the hopes of potential players who may be a late bloomer.
Another factor which the clubs are unable to build on is the consistency of the players in the team for the local fans to be identified. For example, if I’m supporting Hougang United, the club keeps changing the team 80% wholesale, how am I able to identify the team I’m supposed to support.
Cue: One Club players like Paolo Maldini, Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs. They are the players fans resonate with the clubs.

Clubs are supposed to run their development programmes in the grass root level. If a young child were to enroll in their programme and slowly proceeds on to represent the clubs in the Prime and S League level, there will be more pride involved. This is taking a cue from the Europe, where proper development programs are already in place. A development scholarship can also be given to the potential youth players which may tie them down to the clubs until they complete their NS.

It may be sad to see clubs going into red figures, as such that may be the possibility where clubs are unwilling to provide long term contracts. However if they want to achieve long term success on the pitch and with the community, it will be good to tie down good players on longer terms. It would also deprive bigger budget clubs locally and overseas from prying them away. And if the terms are done up well, big clubs poaching their players would also have to pay a certain amount of transfer fee, which will increase their income. Without a safe budget, it would also be a big gamble for the clubs, which these case FAS should be stepping in to help in provide more stability for the players.

S League is supposed to be the professional league in Singapore however the locals plying their trade here will not feel professional if their future is not stable. Where I had mentioned before, heroes have been made from the Lions XII players. As Lions XII will also undergo a round of revamp of the team, quite a number of not so lucky players will be looking at local clubs to further their career. It will be a perfect opportunity for the local clubs to sign these heroes and improve their marketability on the local front.

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