Geylang look for new ways to attract sponsors
For every club in the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, the search for sponsorship dollars is a key component in the run-up to the start of a new season.
One vital question Geylang International are asking themselves is: What is the value proposition for a prospective sponsor?
Instead of merely offering space on their jersey and advertisement boards around Bedok Stadium for sponsor logos, the Eagles are exploring more meaningful ways to find mutually beneficial outcomes for both parties.
The goal is to end short-term, relationship-based sponsorship agreements and replace it with a partnership that can stand the test of time.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Geylang chairman Leong Kok Fann said: "Asking a potential sponsor to come up with a large sum of money in exchange for exposure on our jersey is a hard-sell. We can't just wait for money to fall on our laps, we have to be proactive and create opportunities to drive value."
In that regard, Geylang are working closely with apparel sponsors Dreamatron and leverage on the close relationship the local sportswear brand has with schools here to increase fan turnout at games, while also collaborating to create a match-day experience at Bedok Stadium, including the sale of Dreamatron and Geylang merchandise - based on a profit-sharing model.
"We're looking to expand our relationship beyond just apparel, and we want to work with them as co-creators of the Bedok match-day experience to bring more fans in," said Leong, a former Singapore international.
"We have in fact set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for them with regard to that, and will reward them for the increase compared to prior years if those targets are met."
Setting KPIs for sponsors is not exactly run of the mill, and the Eagles' relationship with another of their sponsors - Kata Group Resorts Thailand - is also rather unconventional.
In a one-year agreement with the Thai company, Geylang will wear the sponsor's logo on the sleeves of their jerseys, and also help promote Kata's Phuket Orchid Resort & Spa as a destination for sports events.
As part of a profit-sharing model, Geylang will organise the Phuket 9s Juniors Soccer Tournament in June.
The competition is for players in two categories - Under-10s and Under-12s - and the Eagles will receive a percentage of any revenue generated from the tournament and from rooms that are booked as part of the event.
The same will apply for any other events the club can bring to the resort.
"We are working together to create a win-win situation for both parties, and even monetise the hotel rooms during non-peak periods," said Leong. "If this works out, next year we won't have to knock on their door to ask them to extend the sponsorship, they'll be asking us what more we can do together."
Leong believes the club have staff with the ability to organise and run events.
He also feels one spin-off to the sort of partnerships Geylang are working towards is the opportunity for players to get involved in what could be the start of a post-football career.
He revealed that midfielder Mustaqim Manzur will help in the project with the Thai resort in a manner that will not affect his on-field commitments.
Geylang have also been engaged to organise a charity golf day for one of their other partners - the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) - and will be paid for their efforts.
"Such efforts can give us a sustainable revenue stream to complement our jackpot operations, which have been the main source of revenue. It will mitigate the impact of peaks and troughs in takings," said Leong.
"In absolute terms, we are operating on the same budget as we did last year but, through these efforts, we can enhance the value of the dollar."
It's about a football culture
Geylang International have won two trophies since the turn of the millennium - the 2001 S.League and the 2009 Singapore Cup - a far cry from the days when they were regular kings of club football here.
While on-field results are the benchmark of a great club, Eagles' chairman Leong Kok Fann firmly believes there needs to be a change at the very core of the club before they can spread their wings again.
"It is very important that we look into the structure and processes within the club to create sustainability, (something) less dependent on personalities," said Leong, who has helmed the club since 2012.
"Football excellence will come only if we have internalised strong values.
"If each and every member of the Geylang team internalises the values of hard work, passion, commitment and honesty, we will see a change that we can celebrate.
"In football, as in the journey of life, values are very important."
Geylang coach Jorg Steinbrunner, who took over from V Kanan in March 2014, has filled the five foreign- player slots, with old boy Jozef Kaplan (above) from Slovakia set to lead the line once again.
Veteran goalkeeper Yazid Yasin, 36, has also been re-signed and will challenge Hairul Syirhan - promoted from the Prime League ranks - for the No. 1 spot.
Administrative changes have been made and the platform for a sustainable commercial model is being formed at the Bedok Stadium.
With discipline also instilled by the coaching staff, Leong believes it is the spirit of things that is key.
He revealed that while prize money is shared among coaches and players, the club do not subscribe to the local football norm of paying match bonuses to players, because it "runs against the grain of what it means to be a true professional and to give of your best".
"We want to build a culture, so that when a player wears the green and white of Geylang, he knows it stands for something unique and with pride - that's a valuable legacy," said the former Singapore captain.
"I hope all this doesn't sound too airy fairy.
"Last season could have been better for us, but the mood in the club now is absolutely different... we are more ready and confident than we were at this time last year."