After 20 years, I just find that our S League is just a joke. Instead of producing more talents, allowing more players to live off their passion as a professional player and developing our standards of football, we just seemed to be moving backwards and backwards.
This is what happen when the government chose to build everything top down by placing paper generals in positions, thinking they are up to the mark of driving various governmental project. These generals may have been scholars, groomed to be the successors of the nation and may have had certain sporting achievements during their time, but are they really up to the mark? Based on the whole S League issue, I just can say that they do not really bother about what the ground is feeling.
20 years is a long time, sufficient enough to develop youth to the professional stage and develop the players bring more quality to the S League. But with each passing year, the league seems to be taking steps backwards. Head honchos at FAS blame clubs not producing enough young talents, clubs lamenting that there are not enough funds to sustain. While these situations had been an ongoing problem in the past, but it takes 2 hands to clap. By reducing the number of teams for next season might seem to be the most feasible option now, but were there any prevention measures being taken before coming to this action? For a club to sit out for next season just like that, can you imagine how many players' livelihood are affected? And to think that their idea of limiting the number of local players aged over 30, is a step towards developing younger players, why haven't they thought of improving the standards of the Prime League? I thought Prime League is supposed to be the breeding ground for future S League?
Those football people sitting at the high table in FAS might have thought that participation in the Malaysia Cup brought back the passion of the local fans, but did our standards really improve? Is the training methods implemented at the FAS system working? Just look at how our LionsXII and Young Lions did in the MSL and S League. These are the so called talented young players with a chance of representing Singapore on the international stage, but they are even struggling to beat our regional countries now. We may boast to have many qualified coaches who had achieved the highest coaching accreditation in the world or Asia, but they are just not given the opportunity at all, even locally. Turning to foreign coaches may be a good idea, but that just simply disheartened the local coaches. FAS have different age group teams participating in the lower divisions of the National Football League, but everyone is complaining that Singapore is too small to build a talent pool. In fact, with FAS procuring so many of these talented youngsters, they could not even handle them well. Why don't FAS just disband these age group teams and let the clubs train and develop them instead? These clearly shows a distinct lack of confidence in our local clubs.
With the clubs not having any ownerships of the local stadiums, they will always be faced with the uncertainty relocating to other stadiums. This will definitely have an adverse effect for the clubs and fans. The most notable example would be Tampines Rovers who play their home match at Clementi Stadium. How are the people in Tampines going to relate to Clementi? Also with the clubs constantly facing pressure for results and budget, they are not even interested in signing players for long term contracts, mostly offering 1 year contracts for the players. That is also why lots of players move around clubs each season. From a fan's perspective, I personally find it very difficult to follow and support a particular club if their coaches and players keeps changing every year. There is simply no way to build on a culture for the localised fans. Needless to say, how can we expect entertaining football with the constant cropping and changing of players and coaches?
How I wish FAS can really improve on the standards of the S League, ensuring proper development in the youth development, to bring us a more quality product that we can be proud of. I believe if FAS is able to garner so many sponsors for an under performing LionsXII, better connections and marketing efforts can be used to help out the S League clubs.
The more I look at it, the more it resembles the situation with Formula 1 at the moment where smaller teams simply could not sustain the competition with teams on a bigger budget. Even the F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone who can simply just step in to help, but chose not to and only sigh in regret. But at the very least, F1 is still raking in big profits from commercial rights and ticketing.