S.League renamed the Singapore Premier League
The S.League, Singapore's professional football competition, has been renamed the Singapore Premier League (SPL) as part of efforts to rejuvenate the ailing competition which is entering its 23rd year.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) made the announcement at the National Stadium's Sports Hub lounge yesterday, unveiling the SPL logo which has a lion motif to symbolise the Singapore identity.
Besides the new branding, the FAS has also set four pillars in which the SPL will revolve around - a premium platform for aspiring footballers, professionalism, sustainability and a vibrant football culture.
FAS vice-president Edwin Tong acknowledged that these changes "will take time to bear fruit" and urged fans to show their support.
In a press release, he said: "The objectives of the SPL are to grow our playing base, to have good governance, create a vibrant fan experience and, ultimately, ensure a steady pipeline of players for the national team.
"Our four pillars are the basis of all the change and developments we have initiated."
FAS president Lim Kia Tong added: "Our new vision and attitude will improve the vibrancy of football in Singapore. We knew that a revitalisation of our domestic league was necessary for Singapore football to move forward."
Last December, the FAS introduced a slew of policies to revitalise the league, including an age quota that requires senior local SPL clubs to have at least six Under-23 players in their ranks, at least three of whom must be in the starting line-up.
To strengthen their bond with the community, the majority of SPL matches will also be held on weekends, kicking off largely at 5.30pm with pre-match activities to entertain families.
Fans can also watch half of the season's matches through live streaming.
A new centralised ticketing system in partnership with APACTix will also be introduced, allowing fans to purchase tickets online for all matches under the FAS umbrella, including SPL matches, international games and other FAS-hosted matches.
Geylang International chairman Ben Teng welcomes the revamp. He said: "There were many rounds of consultations with the clubs and it's a good initiative to improve on something that they really have been building."
Singapore international Fazrul Nawaz, who plays for Tampines Rovers, hopes that the move will attract more fans to support local football .
The 32-year-old striker said: "It's a stepping stone to reviving football in Singapore and, hopefully, it won't stop here."
Ex-international Noh Alam Shah, 37, feels that while the rebranding can help lift Singapore football, it is still up to the players to draw back the fans.
He said: "The FAS and the club managements can only do so much. The players need to live up to the new and fresh rebranding to bring football back to life in Singapore."
The SPL kicks off next Saturday with defending champions Albirex Niigata meeting Tampines Rovers at the National Stadium.