S.League chief executive Lim Chin steps down
He will leave S.League chief executive post in March
After five years at the helm of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League, Lim Chin, the chief executive of Singapore's professional football competition, will leave his post on March 31.
"After helming the S.League for the past five years, I have decided that it is the right time for me to pursue other interests and opportunities," the 54-year-old said, in a media release issued by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) yesterday.
S.League director of operations Kok Wai Leong will oversee the competition's operations after Lim's exit.
The latest development adds to the uncertainty that surrounds the country's only local professional sports league, but members of the local fraternity The New Paper spoke to said it was not all doom and gloom.
"The machinery that surrounds the S.League is well-entrenched, so this upcoming season shouldn't be a problem," said Krishna Ramachandra, chairman of Tampines Rovers.
"Perhaps this will mean fresh ideas from whoever comes in next; after all, a new broom sweeps clean, and the next CEO may bring about a fresh impetus for the league's growth."
Former Singapore international R Sasikumar insists the S.League needs to evolve, and he believes Lim's exit, along with the impending FAS council elections, will prove timely for the overhaul of the competition.
"If someone were to take up the role as it is now, there's no chance he is going to succeed... because of the fundamental flaws in the product," said the former defender, who is managing director of the Red Card Group.
"The S.League, as a product, needs to reinvent itself; Lim Chin took it as far as he could.
"New initiatives must be the way forward and, while there's no guarantee (of success), we must hope that this change can be for the better."
Lim, who faced the unenviable task of reviving interest in the S.League, introduced the Marquee Player scheme - a foreign signing with no salary cap - but the plan ultimately proved unsuccessful.
An age-cap limiting players above 30, proposed ahead of the 2015 season, was roundly criticised and fell through.
Both Sasikumar and a top club official here acknowledged that Lim's departure has added more uncertainty over the future of the competition.
Issues like fan attendance, funding, FAS council elections and the long-proposed Asean Super League have sown many seeds of doubt over the league's viability.
Requesting anonymity, the official said: "I feel the timing of this (news) is not very good due to the other uncertainties that already exist and have not yet been sorted out.
"The next CEO should give clarity on the future of the league as soon as possible in terms of areas like funding and continuity so that we, as clubs, can plan ahead."
Sasi added that once appointed, the new CEO must get down to the ground to reassure the players and staff from the various clubs with his vision and plans.
Sasi said: "Whoever is coming in must give that sense of security... have that positive energy about him... and make sure that no player falls through the cracks during any transition in the league."
In the statement yesterday, FAS interim president Lim Kia Tong said: "Both parties have been in discussions for some time and, while we are disappointed to lose a diligent servant of the game like Lim Chin, we understand his decision to pursue other opportunities.
"We have requested that Lim continue in his role until March 31 to oversee the kick-off of the new league season and he has agreed to do so."
Former Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng said: "To me, Lim Chin is a good administrator. He is very honest and he has tried his best.
"But his job is a very difficult and complicated; the S.League is a very complicated animal."