With the historic upcoming football association election in Singapore less than 24 hours away much of the buildup has been dominated by accusation and counter-accusation with very little of the focus being put on how to actually improve the stagnant football scene on the island.
The two major blocs, headed by former FAS Vice-President Lim Kia Tong and the ‘Game Changers’ group helmed by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng have dominated much of that discussion but it’s also far too often veered into concerns around financial impropriety and tit-for-tat barbs thrown about by each over a range of non-football issues.
Lost in those headline-grabbing slurs is the fact that there is also another group of candidates, running as independents for one of the 15 spots on the new FAS Council.
FOX Sports Asia spoke with one of those, James Lim, to gauge his thoughts on what can be done to boost the flagging fortunes of Singaporean football, including his thoughts that the S.League needs to be ‘rebranded’ to once again boost interest in the local league.
One of 16 candidates running for the six spots being contested by the ‘independents’ the 52-year-old has been a driving force in trying to resuscitate the once dominant Woodlands Wellington Club and is focused on putting football ahead of politics and that’s an approach that should win him plenty of support.
FSA: Why are these elections so important for the future of Singaporean football?
JL: It’s just that the appointed FAS council has proven to be ineffective for many years. Leaders voted in by the affiliates will have the mandate to do what is necessary.
FSA: What are the most important things that need to change to move Singaporean football forward?
JL: First, the administrative capability of FAS has to be strengthened. Secondly there is a need for a shared vision for the various stakeholders.
FSA: What can be done to improve grassroots development and elite pathways?
JL: More children must be given the opportunity to train and play. Every football club must have a Centre of Excellence. The NFA is a failed project and should be removed.
FSA: How can the S.League be improved?
JL: The S.League should be rebranded to attract greater public interest. Management of the league should to be taken off the hands of FAS. And the S.League needs to be privatised to allow entrepreneurial capital to flow in.
FSA: Does the S.League need promotion/relegation and a fully established, professional, second tier?
JL: Yes, relegation/promotion will incentivise the clubs to improve their league standing.
FSA: Does the FAS have an ‘image problem’ and how can that be fixed?
JL: The council and management of FAS have run out ideas to improve SG football. New people have to come in and be innovative.
FSA: Singapore has gone from a regional powerhouse to an also-ran in many ways; can the country return to the top of Southeast Asian football and how long until we see that happen?
JL: Yes, Singapore can be great again but it might take 10 years or more.
FSA: Are you surprised that much of the election campaign has focussed on ‘non-football’ issues to date?
JL: I am not surprised. The past councils were clueless and made many bad decisions.