Football's the missing link at the National Stadium, says Leonard Thomas
It's missing in the 2016 events calendar, but football is vital for the National Stadium
He stated that the Sports Hub would agree to an event as long as it does not hurt the financial viability in the long-term.
He gave the assurance of the Hub's commitment to football, describing it as one of the most important projects on their calendar every year.
Most important of all, Manu Sawhney told me yesterday that the Sports Hub will never waver from attempting to deliver to the public quality content on a regular basis.
As it stands, though, there are no football dates at the National Stadium in 2016.
For a football nation, it cannot make sense.
Sawhney, the new chief executive of the Singapore Sports Hub, sits on the Manchester United board.
He knows the score.
He says he has spent 20 years in sport, working and learning and developing contacts around the world.
He knows what quality content is and he will vehemently disagree with those who continue to believe that the 55,000-capacity National Stadium and much of the rest of the Hub will end up mainly idle.
Yesterday, he revealed how national schools' competitions will pepper the Hub with noise and excitement over the course of a few months.
He said the Asian Masters track and field event will be held at the National Stadium in May.
There was an A-Mei concert on Jan 9 at the stadium, and Madonna will perform there next month.
The venue will host three Super Rugby games starring new Japanese franchise Sunwolves, and the World Rugby Sevens Series in April.
Track and field will be on show at the National Stadium in May with the Singapore Open and the Asia Masters Athletics Championships.
Sawhney's strong links with the Red Devils will always throw up the possibility of the English giants playing at the National Stadium.
He said yesterday he would work at making the huge United fan base here happy.
I hope Sawhney and his team also work with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and MP & Silva and come up with at least a couple of friendly dates for the Lions at Kallang before the national team's World Cup qualifier away to Afghanistan on March 29.
Last February, the FAS signed a $25-million, six-year deal with international sports media rights company MP & Silva that covers the rights to the national and age-group teams, sponsorship rights and international events for the Lions and national age-group squads.
The Sports Hub's new CEO insists the relationship with MP & Silva is fine, even after the two parties failed to come to an agreement over the staging of the Merlion Cup (a four-team invitational tournament) and I hope there is an announcement soon over matches involving the Lions, and more football dates at the National Stadium in the second half of the year.
In a candid admission, Sawhney admitted yesterday he did not realise the magnitude of the $1.33 billion facility that is the Singapore Sports Hub, when he took over as chief executive from Philippe Collin-Delavaud.
I threw up the possibility that the Public-Private-Partnership with the Government could fail but he refused to budge.
One hundred days into his new role, he expressed pride that the Hub is a model for others to follow.
Its crown jewel, the stadium, can be configured to host football, rugby and cricket matches.
Other nations will realise such a facility does not have to be located far away from the city centre.
They worked hard, learnt, adapted and made further investment to get the pitch right, and Sawhney vowed that the team he leads will continue to do the same to make the Singapore Sports Hub a noisy and action-packed venue, with football owning a prominent place.
I cannot wait.