For The Record...
"In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore, Zainudin (Nordin, FAS President) reiterated that the S-league will not become a "poorer cousin" once the LionsXII start their Malaysia Cup campaign."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Ground Hopping Continues ...

Bishan Stadium is under the re-turfing process
This is current condition of the field of Bishan Stadium, the designated "home" ground of two Singapore Premier League (SGPL) clubs - Lion City Sailors and Balestier Khalsa, as seen from the nearby Bishan Sports Hall days ago.

It was learned that such re-turfing of the natural grass surface would take approximately five to six months to complete and the process only begun late last year.

NEW SEASON K.O. IN LATE FEB
One recent Straits Times article suggested the Community Shield, the annual pre-season opener for the SGPL, will be staged on 20th February.

If it is what the mentioned broadsheet suggested, the 2021 SGPL season is likely to kick off on the following weekend based on past scheduling of fixtures.

However, given the present condition of the Bishan surface, it is understood Balestier Khalsa will play their home fixtures at Toa Payoh Stadium while LCS will be ground sharing the newly-refurbished Jalan Besar Stadium (JBS) with Young Lions for the upcoming season.

HOUGANG STAY PUT IN HOUGANG FOR UPCOMING SEASON
The likelihood of the above-mentioned arrangement is high when it is also understood that Hougang United will continue to play their home fixtures at their spiritual Hougang Stadium home base.

Hougang Hools will be cheering their heroes at their spiritual abode in 2021
This will be second successive season to see reallocation of home grounds when last year saw Hougang United and Young Lions played their home games at Hougang Stadium and Jurong West Stadium respectively since the ground sharing initiative of SGPL clubs started in 2019.

Prior to that, both Cheetahs and Young Lions played their home fixtures at JBS who was closed during the 2020 season to allow repair works to be carried out.

This platform had reached out to Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for comment.

Friday, January 01, 2021

"United" All Over The Shop - Trend OR Reality?

Called it an obsession or mere British influence when it is not uncommon in this part of the world to name a football club as whatsoever "United".

Just look around the region, you already have Buriram United, Bangkok United and Muangthong United in Thailand where national custodian Hassan Sunny used to play for the dissolved Army United.

Down south in Malaysia, there is a team rebranded as Kuala Lumpur United which is formerly known as Kuala Lumpur FA - the team that once boasted the likes of Singapore triumvirate of Fandi Ahmad, Malek Awab and K Kanan in their 1980s heydays.

BRITISH INFLUENCE RESULTED UNITED EVERYWHERE?
On the other end of the Causeway in Singapore, names like Farrer Park United, Toa Payoh United were some of those listed in the then-newly formed National Football League (NFL) in the mid-1970s.

Moving into mid-1990s, these were the names to mark the start of the professional era like Geylang United (which later changed to Geylang International), Tiong Bahru United (later Tanjong Pagar United), Gombak United, Home United (now Lion City Sailors after the privatisation) and Hougang United.

Tanjong Pagar United used to be known as Tiong Bahru United
However, having a closer look at things some may be thinking why named as "United" when some of these Singapore teams are not amalgamated club to begin with.

Sit-out club Gombak United traced their roots to that of Redhill Rangers which was founded in 1980s before their first admission to the S.League in 1998.

At the beginning, they were called International Contract Specialists Football Club (ICSFC) who later renamed as Geylang International and based themselves at Geylang Field along Geylang Lorong 12 during the NFL era.

The start of the professionalism, however, saw the club registered as Geylang United in 1996 but reverted to Geylang International in 2013.

Based on the aforementioned, there is no evidence to suggest any form of merging of different entities along the process to see those clubs named as "United".

HOME UNITED THEM ALL?
Depend on individual interpretation, when the managing of Police FC, one of the pioneering eight clubs of the S.League, was handed over to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the club was renamed as Home United in 1997.

As such, Home United was qualified as a "United" not just a club that represented only the police force but including other services under the jurisdiction of MHA like Civil Defence Forces and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

On the other hand, Tiong Bahru United only saw themselves widen up their catchment area to see themselves as a team representing a wider Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency (GRC) which also did not see any merging of clubs along the way.

Perhaps the best example to illustrate the correct use of "United" in local professional football is Hougang United which emerged from the merging of both Sengkang Marine and Paya Lebar Punggol to form Sengkang Punggol before changed to their current name in 2011.

ENGLISH EXAMPLES
It is widely accepted that Sheffield United is the oldest existing football club in the world to be named "United" even though the club was founded by the cricket club of the same name in 1889.

Clubs like Leeds United, Manchester United shown no traces of combining of separate entities that led to the naming of their clubs either.

Leeds United was founded in 1919 to take over the tenancy of Elland Road after the dissolution of Leeds City by the Football League while the name Manchester United was selected from the list that comprised Manchester Central and Manchester Celtic after the club was no longer based in Newton Heath on 26 April 1902.

Jubilant Manchester United fans in 2019 ICC 
Newcastle United, however, is one of the known top flight clubs being a product of the amalgamated process that witnessed the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End in 1892.

So it is noteworthy to conclude the name of team as "United" is not necessary due to combination of two or more entities but could also seen as something trendy in the Victorian and Edwardian era in England, although in this part of the world it should be seen as a case of British influence.

Nonetheless, the use of the word "United" was taken to a new level when Philippines club Ceres-Negros FC changed its name to United City FC which may sounded weird to some football purists.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

[Annual Review] - Stay At Eight To Ensure Competitiveness For 2021

Was not thinking of penning this annual review since it was a shorten season due to the ongoing pandemic.

Nonetheless, I decided to come up with a short piece to sum up my thoughts on the extraordinary year that not only affected local football but also our daily life as well.

First of all, congratulations to Albirex Niigata (Singapore) for regaining the Singapore Premier League (SGPL) title which they last won in 2018 as part of their clean sweep of local major honours.

A PACKED 2021 CALENDAR - A HEADACHE FOR FAS AND CLUBS 
The ongoing Covid19 pandemic resulted a number of competitions, both regional and domestic, being postponed or cancelled thus it is likely to see a packed footballing calendar next year.

Not only will we see Tampines Rovers, Lion City Sailors and Geylang International taking part in the continental tournaments like the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup, the AFF Suzuki Cup is scheduled to return next year (though in December 2021 in the latest update provided by AFF on 7th December) as well after the pandemic scrapped staging of this marquee tournament which was supposed to take place last month.

Geylang International will be playing in the AFC Cup in 2021 (credit: FAS)
However, one of the biggest concerns facing Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the local game governing body, is the status of former SGPL champions Brunei DPMM.

Again, it was the Covid19 situation that blocked the sultanate club from resuming their campaign and with FAS president Lim Kia Tong stressed the club which is bankrolled by the Crown Prince of Brunei being an "integral part" of the SGPL, it is unlikely to see the Bruneians cut off their links with local football in the near future.

Yet, it is still important to determine the status of DPMM whose participating agreement with FAS actually expires end of this year.

To avoid the uncertainty that almost causing the delay to the resumption of the league back in mid October, it is crucial to have those outstanding issues to be ironed out at the soonest to avoid unnecessary piling of matters with a packed calendar being anticipated.

MISSED THE ACTION SO MUCH DURING THE SUSPENSION
I am not sure how the rest felt when the SGPL was suspended back in March?

I thought I would easily overcome the void left behind for something I have been involved over the past two decades by looking for some other stuff to fill the slot and how wrong was I when the uncertainty continued from weeks to months.

And like many, I breathed a sigh of relief when the league was resumed in October and relished the opportunity to be able to take pictures from the sidelines again, something which seemed to be taken for granted in the past.

Something was clearly missing till the resumption of the league
Especially when stringent protocols were in place to ensure everyone's health is well taken care of at this period of time, such as: health declaration before turning up at games after approval was given by the relevant authorities. 

Thankfully, with the exception of the unpredictable weather that saw a number of games played on heavy surfaces, everything went smoothly since the resumption till the conclusion of the truncated league season.

However, with the pandemic still in place, we are not sure if those protocols will still be in place or even tighten up but one thing we do hope is not to see the embarrassment of Tanjong Pagar United taken place again.

STAY AT EIGHT TO MAINTAIN COMPETITIVENESS 
After losing 4-2 to Young Lions at Jurong East on the final day of the season, the once mighty Jaguars claimed the undesired record of finishing the whole campaign without a single win to their credit - a first in local professional football history.

Hastily reassembled to meet the requirements saw the return of Tanjong Pagar United to the fold at the eleventh hour is not something new in the scene, yet it is a mistake the league authority never seems to learn.

Tanjong Pagar United's Syabil Hisham after the 4-2 loss to Young Lions
In order not to make another mockery out of it and further devaluate the competitiveness of the SGPL, I would rather see the number of the teams remained at eight (if DPMM is still being hold back by the travel restrictions) than making another hastily decision to approve any late request to join the local professional league while allowing teams who performed badly to reorganize themselves for next season.

And this should be something on the agenda when the FAS is due to have its elections again next year.

Till the next time, please stay safe and healthy and DON'T be a COVIDIOT!

Friday, November 06, 2020

Don't Piss Us Off With Those "YO-YO" Again

Recently, saw a few postings on social media reminiscing SAFFC's last Singapore Cup win in year 2012.

While this may not be the last major honour clinched by the most successful club in Singapore professional football history (the club, renamed as Warriors FC in 2013, captured their last S.League title in season 2014), it signified the end of a successful era led by the then head coach Richard Bok .

I shall not list down what Coach Bok had achieved when he took over the head coaching role of the Warriors in 2006, as this is not the theme of this post.

The fall guy from the top - Warriors FC 

The theme of this post is to ask the same old question to any of those "sit out" clubs after they made known their intention to return to the fold - "ARE YOU SURE OR NOT?"

This came after the Warriors started off by stated their intention to make their way back to the Singapore Premier League (SGPL) in 2021 after being asked to sit out this season to sort out their financial woes.

PISSED OFF
Honestly speaking, having witnessed clubs who claimed to have sort out their financial woes and returned but only to see themselves sit out again years later due to the same issue is kind of pissing me off (pardon for the choice of word but this is best word to describe that feeling).

It boils down to the same question that if they were ready, as they claimed, and why they had to sit out again years later after they returned because of the same predicament?

BULLS AND JAGS "YO-YO" IN AND OUT
Gombak United first joined in 1998 before dropped out after the end of the 2002 S.League season and made a comeback in 2006 and stayed untill the end of season 2012.

Likewise, Tanjong Pagar United stablized their financial footing and was granted the licence to play in this season's SGPL after excused themselves for the second time at the end of the 2015 S.League season.

Tanjong Pagar United is back (again) in the top-tier this season

So when Warriors seemingly confidently staked their claim for a possible return next season, I was not really that excited at all given the magnitude of the problems this supposedly illustrious club facing.

NEED SOMETHING MORE TANGIBLE
Ready to return is more than just making postings on their social media platforms to bring us down to the memory lane to reminisce the club's past achievements, it should be more than that and something more tangible to cement the cause.

If the targeted timeframe is to see the club return to the fold next year, is front office of this football club back and running by now to facilitate the process (would be glad to be corrected), even though we are not sure if a proposed meeting with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) had taken place or not?

The legacy of SAFFC is etched on local football folklore 

It is mind-boggling to think the groundwork will only be started after the green light is given.

Recruiting will be more than just the players and coaches but those backroom staff too and what about the rekindle of the community outreach program to tell their fans they are coming back?

If all these are possible within a matter of few months before the start of the season 2021, it should be yet another amazing tale.

However, if Warriors FC decided on a proper roadmap to the reinstatement is necessary, it should be lauded for its meticulous planning to avoid the repetition of those "yo-yo" syndromes in the past.

Some fans may think the possibility of the returning of Warriors FC is a mean to replace Brunei DPMM, a suggestion which is unlikely as FAS president Lim Kia Tong reaffirmed the sultanate club is an "integrated part" of the SGPL in a recent statement.

Just put it this way, if our clubs are properly managed and behave professionally in the first place, do we have to see this "yo-yo" syndrome all along? 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

DPMM - YES or NO?

The waiting game is still ongoing for sure and we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Had it came to one's mind as in why this issue has been dragging on and in spite of the "deadline" on 12th October that should see DPMM made their decision on their fate in Singapore Premier League?

Because of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, it's clear that the decision on whether DPMM's continuation in SGPL is not longer purely a footballing matter.

DPMM recontracting ceremony in January 2018

When matter like this occurred, it's obvious that external parties are now, likely, to have a bigger say on this matter like how the relevant authorities gave the go-ahead to see the SGPL resumption on 17/10.

But the bigger concern is - will SGPL go ahead with the resumption on 17/10 with this DPMM uncertainty? Don't forget 25th October is scheduled to see DPMM take on Hougang United at Hougang Stadium, are they ready?

Since it was already made known in the media that unlike the rest of the teams who resumed their full training since 1st of September, the defending champions have yet to do so and only being permitted to train in groups of 10 since August.

DPMM won the Singapore top-tier league title on two occasions

While the oil-rich sultanate's only professional football club is allowed to resume partial training, the rest of the country's major football activities, such as the Brunei Super League (BSL), have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic.

Furthermore, the reciprocal green lane established between Singapore and Brunei since 1st of September will only allows "limited number" of residents of both countries travel in between under strict regulations could be seen as a challenging issue to overcome at this juncture.

A decision on this must be swift and decisive at this point if the decision makers do not want to see the SGPL escalate into another uncertainty.

It is a YES or NO, that is it!

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