Fillip for S.League as Hyundai comes on board
Komoco Motors boss Teo sees value for money in co-title sponsorship deal with S.League
Singapore's only professional sports league received a massive fillip yesterday, with Hyundai Motors unveiled as the co-title sponsor of what will now be known as the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League.
The car manufacturing company signed a two-year deal believed to be in the ballpark of $1 million, replacing local food and beverage company, Yeo's.
Yeo's, the longest-serving backers of the league, called time on their 13-year association earlier this week.
The New Paper understands that Teo Hock Seng, group managing director of Komoco Motors - the main distributor of Hyundai vehicles in Singapore - took the decision after just one meeting on Tuesday, with yesterday's announcement ceremony being put together in just 48 hours.
But Teo, who is known as the "Godfather" of Singapore football for his 40-year service to the sport, insisted that this sponsorship deal was no favour.
"It is value for money… and it makes sense," said Teo, speaking to local media at Komoco's Alexandra headquarters yesterday.
"Hyundai feels that its sponsorship of the A-League has provided it with very good publicity and, a few weeks ago, the president of Hyundai told me to see what more we can do for brand awareness and sports marketing in this region."
In addition to backing the Australian professional football league, Hyundai is also the official automotive partner of world governing body Fifa, as well as a sponsor of the Asian Football Confederation.
"The S.League gave me a proposal, I thought it was a good opportunity, and so we have decided to come on board," he added, crediting Rikram Singh, the Football Association of Singapore's assistant director for commercial and business development, for delivering a persuasive pitch.
"We now have two partners who believe in football and have steadfast dedication to see Singapore football climb to greater heights," said Rikram, in reference to Hyundai and Great Eastern Life.
"The S.League is local football's best hope to nurture the next generation of footballers, and we can only do so if more companies take the leap of faith and lend their support to this project, and also towards our vibrant local sports scene," he added, expressing gratitude to Teo and his Komoco team for working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the deal happen.
Teo is a firm believer in the S.League, having also served as chairman of five-time champions Tampines Rovers for 15 years before stepping down in 2015.
And he is acutely aware of the issues surrounding the competition which has struggled with dwindling interest.
"The S.League is the backbone of Singapore football, and I don't believe in making it semi-professional - that is a backward step," he said, addressing talk of the uncertain future of the league.
Teo said he would like to see two more local teams join the nine-club competition, and the league should adopt a more consistent view of its foreign player policy that could help clubs.
"We need to be quite clear of what we want to do," he said.
The league will kick off on Sunday with the Great Eastern Community Shield clash between Tampines and Albirex Niigata facing off at the National Stadium - the first time an S.League fixture will be played at the Singapore Sports Hub.
"Great Eastern has been supporting the S.League for the past eight years," said Great Eastern Holdings' Group chief executive Khor Hock Seng, who was pleased to see Hyundai come on board.
"As the longest standing sponsor of the S.League, we welcome corporations like Hyundai in coming forward to join us to support local football.
"This augurs well for the development of the sport as a whole."