SINGAPORE (22 MARCH 2018) – The dawn of a new era in Singapore football was marked this week as the revamp of Singapore’s professional football league was launched.
After 22 seasons, there will be a new name moving forward for the country’s only professional sports league – the Singapore Premier League.
Announced by FA of Singapore (FAS) President, Lim Kia Tong, the historic moment took place at the Singapore Sports Hub – the site of the old National Stadium, which bore witness to the launch of the S.League in 1996.
“What we are looking to establish is a league that belongs to all Singaporeans, one that they will be proud to support and to own,” he said.
“We are looking at having a league that is professional in every sense. We are looking at a quality product that is in a class of its own.
Kia Tong explained that the ultimate aim of the football league is to build a stronger National Team for Singapore and the new Singapore Premier League – SPL for short – will be grounded upon four key pillars: a premium platform for aspiring players, professionalism, sustainability and a vibrant football culture.
Apart from ensuring a steady pipeline of players to the National Team, the pillars are also aimed at supporting three other objectives: to grow a large playing base from grassroots to youth, to be responsible to stakeholders and have good governance, and to create a vibrant fan experience.
“It has to be as complete a change as possible to revitalise our league, to reignite the initial passion that fuelled the fans and the players, and which encapsulated a nation to follow and support our footballing heroes,” Kia Tong added.
“The road to this day was not easy, but it is something that my Council and I decided was necessary for us to move forward. When we sought to be elected into the Council, we already knew that the onus would be on us to make changes to revitalise the league.
FAS Vice-President, Edwin Tong, pointed out that the four key pillars are interconnected and touched on the related developments under each one.
For example, new rules to increase the number of youth players in the SPL will help make it a platform for them to thrive, while instructors from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have also conducted courses for local match administrators in a bid to raise standards.
Edwin noted that the SPL brand should be nurtured to ensure that it is run and sustained organically, and that it is able to evolve and adapt to the needs of the footballing community. To help build a vibrant culture, initiatives will be undertaken to enhance the match-day experience – matches will be live and a new digital platform called MySPL will be introduced, amongst others.
Embodying the fresh start is the new SPL logo, which was unveiled by Kia Tong and Edwin. Featuring a lion motif stylised in vibrant red to represent Singapore and blue, the corporate colour of FAS, the image features four distinct points in the mane – emphasizing the four key pillars.
“We settled on what we felt gave a sense of determination, hunger and drive,” Kia Tong said.
Players from the clubs then modelled their new jerseys for the season, complete with the fresh SPL patch.
Kia Tong thanked AFC President, His Excellency, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and AFC General Secretary, Dato Windsor John, as well as consultant Anter Isaac and AFC Development Officer (ASEAN), Visakan Subramaniam, for their support in the SPL revamp.
He also expressed appreciation to FAS stakeholders, especially Tote Board, Sport Singapore and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for committing to a multi-year financial plan that allows FAS to plan several years ahead.
With the 2018 SPL season officially kicking off on 31 March at the National Stadium with the Great Eastern Community Shield clash between Albirex Niigata FC (Singapore) and Tampines Rovers FC, Kia Tong called on everyone to help make the league a success.
“The Singapore Premier League is an ambitious, long-term project that will succeed with the support of all of Singapore. Let us venture forward together to build the future of Singapore football,” he said.- www.fas.org.sg