Health of S-League in the spotlight

Aleksandar Duric (right, in yellow) hopes the football fraternity will band together and come up with a plan to breathe life into the S-League.

He has played in 14 out of the 17 editions of the S-League, and has become one of the most respected local footballers.

Well known and respected for his professionalism, when Aleksandar Duric speaks, people listen.

The Singapore and Tampines Rovers striker fears for the health of the S-League, and hopes the football fraternity will band together and come up with a plan to breathe life into the competition.

On Wednesday, Today reported that some local S-League clubs are streamlining their operations after their revenue from clubhouse jackpot machines had taken a beating from the casinos in the two Integrated Resorts.

Some of these clubs have no main sponsors to supplement S-League subsidies that can be worth as much as $800,000.

One of Singapore football's most prolific marksmen over the last few years, Duric, 42, said on Wednesday: "We are most definitely in a crisis.

"We should stop hiding, we must face the reality - something needs to be done.

"When I first came to the S-League in 1999, there was more money pumped in and we had so many stars and household names.

"It is all about money, but it is all connected.

"When there are no fans in the stadium, there is nothing in it for the sponsors to come in. Without money from the sponsors, it is near impossible to bring in quality players who can attract fans.

"If clubs don't find a way to bring in the money, they will go under."

Balestier Khalsa vice-chairman S Thavaneson, however, feels that talk of a crisis is an "over-reaction", but agrees that changes have to be made swiftly to improve the league.

His main concern is the format of the competition, which has seen a reduction from last season's 33 games to 24 this year.

Teams now play two rounds of matches instead of three. But the length of this year's campaign is the same as last season - February to November.

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