Be true to yourself, Dortmund director tells S.League
Dortmund director believes S.League must stick to its philosophy and meet targets set
He would not assume familiarity with the situation, nor to know better than administrators here, as Carsten Cramer refused to be drawn into giving advice on how the S.League can lift itself.
Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Borussia Dortmund's director of sales and marketing offered only one key philosophical point for the country to consider, as it searches for answers to the myriad questions football throws up here.
"Ask where you stand. Ask what is your own picture, your philosophy. I don't know the target objective of the Singapore league, or how to make it work, but you shouldn't compare with others, or even your neighbours," he said, as the S.League prepares to kick off its 21st season next month.
"Be as authentic as possible."
"Authentic" was one of two words - along with sustainability - that came up constantly in the conversation with Cramer, as he spoke of the German club who rose from near-bankruptcy in 2005 to Champions League finalists just eight years later.
Those two words form a key part of the Dortmund ethos and could well be important for the S.League, which has struggled with dwindling attendances and declining sponsor interest over the last few years.
There is some optimism, though, ahead of the 2016 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season.
The Malaysian football adventure with the LionsXII ended last year, presenting a situation that could see a spike in attendances when the 2016 season kicks off, especially with many of the star names from the Malaysian Super League side returning to S.League clubs.
Dortmund have a partnership with MSL giants Johor Darul Ta'zim and, while Cramer asserts that interest in football is different in Johor and perhaps all of Malaysia, Singapore should focus on its own situation.
"Football seems to be a lot more a part of people's life there than here," he noted.
"I'm just working for Dortmund and I'm lucky that I have that logo on my card. I'm not a teacher to give advice to others. Of course we observe others and see what they do and if it can be good for us.
"But we don't race against others, not against Bayern Munich, not Real Madrid. If we do, we would lose... We only race against ourselves."
Providing some insight into how Dortmund have achieved their success, Cramer pointed to factors like management decisions and luck as key.
"With social media and television broadcasting, the transparency of our business is greater than ever.
"Authenticity and intensity are core characteristics of our club... And we are not an artificial product, if we make a mistake, we have to give our commitment to that mistake," he said, giving the Adnan Januzaj situation as an example.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel cut short the Belgian youngster's season-long loan spell from Manchester United, not mincing his words when he said the winger did not show the right attitude to succeed.
REACH IN ASIA
"The example of Adnan Januzaj is, in my mind, an exception but, even if it happened more often, we wouldn't complain. It's daily life, it's not always sunny," said Cramer.
The forecast for Dortmund in Asia is, in fact, sunny, the situation looking better than it did before the club opened their office in Singapore in 2014.
Dortmund are looking to extend their reach in South-east Asia and Japan, and the team came this way last July as part of an Asian Tour.
While another Asian jaunt is not on the cards this year - due to the European Championship in France in June - Cramer insists that Dortmund are looking to build on their relationship with the region.
"The Asian Tour was an important first step for us in this region. Sustainability is important for us in this key market and we want to stay, not just take a single shot and leave - we want to come back again," he said.
We are satisfied with how the office here is doing. It was a brave move to come into an area of the world we have no experience in... And we are very, very convinced it was the right decision to create a sustainable relationship. We accept that we are behind the english Premier League here, but if we don’t challenge, we can’t win.
— Carsten Cramer, Borussia Dortmund director of sales and marketing