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Fabius Chen
Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

Sports

Spoilt for choice to watch for free

The Straits Times | Fabius Chen | Sunday, Jul 6, 2014

More than 600 people turned up at the multi-purpose hall of Bishan Community Club for the England-Italy match on June 15. With the number of CCs offering free screenings now increased to 58, many more football fans can look forward to an exciting weekend when the four quarter-final matches will be contested.

He may not have signed up for SingTel or StarHub's World Cup offerings.

But for Dennis Check, live action from Brazil is a mere three minutes away.

"It's so convenient," said the human resources business partner, who has been getting his Finals fix at the Nee Soon South Community Club, just a stone's throw from his home.

"There's air-conditioning and when the crowd cheers, it's like being inside a mini-stadium. The atmosphere is definitely there so I couldn't really ask for more."

Check, 30, is among the 400,000-odd fans who have been cheering on their favourite teams at 58 CCs across the island since the tournament kicked off on June 12.

The free screenings are a joint initiative by the People's Association, Singapore Pools and local broadcast rights holder SingTel.

The number of CCs has grown to 58 - from 40 - as the competition enters the quarter-final stage.

And they are not the only option for those who want to get in on the action without forking out a cent either.

With live screenings at 38 McDonald's outlets and certain coffee shops islandwide, fans have been spoilt for choice for places to catch the action, especially with the quarter-finals coming up this weekend.

Coupled with less-than-viewer-friendly kick-off times of between midnight and 6am, these low-cost alternatives may well be drawing crowds away from pubs that usually enjoy a stranglehold on football followers' affections.

"It's possible," an employee of the Harry's group, who declined to be named, said.

"Harry's has 21 outlets but we can use only four due to licensing constraints, so we can't do much about these matches."

Cost may also be a factor, said Esad Sejdic, who owns the Sahara Bar & Restaurant in Boat Quay.

"If you go to a pub, you have to spend money," he added.

"But if you go to a coffee shop and order a teh tarik, it costs you one dollar and you're all set."

The Bosnian, a former S-League footballer, added that the screenings at CCs, McDonald's outlets and coffee shops have "definitely affected some businesses around here".

Not his, though.

"I have regular customers so I've been doing okay," said Sejdic, whose kitchen continues to serve food after he stops selling liquor at 3am.

Similarly unaffected by the growing number of free screenings in the heartland is The Penny Black pub.

Located down the row from Sahara, the London-style venue has brought in beers from England, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the United States.

"I think the CCs and coffee shops will attract more of a local crowd," general manager Anna Lim said.

"Expatriates account for approximately 80 per cent of our clientele and most of them want to support their respective countries with a pint of beer in hand."

Cool Ambience

It's so convenient. There's air-conditioning and when the crowd cheers, it's like being inside a mini-stadium.
- Singaporean Dennis Check

Raising a toast

Most expatriates want to support their countries with a pint of beer in hand.
- Penny Black manager Anna Lim

 

Where to catch the action live

Community clubs

Anchorvale, Bedok, Bishan, Braddell Heights, Bukit Batok, Bukit Batok East, Bukit Timah, Bukit Panjang, Buona Vista, Canberra, Changi Simei, Cheng San, Chong Pang, Chua Chu Kang, Clementi, Fengshan, Gek Poh Ville, Henderson, Jalan Kayu, Jurong Green, Jurong Spring, Kaki Bukit, Kallang, Kampong Chai Chee, Kampong Ubi, Kim Seng, Marine Parade, Nanyang, Nee Soon South, Pasir Ris East, Pasir Ris Elias, Paya Lebar Kovan, Pek Kio, Potong Pasir, Punggol21, Punggol, Queenstown, Radin Mas, Sembawang, Sengkang, Siglap, Taman Jurong, Tampines Central, Tampines East, Tampines West , Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer Hong Lim Green, Telok Blangah, Toa Payoh Central, Toa Payoh East, Ulu Pandan, West Coast, Woodlands, Woodlands (ACE The Place), Yew Tee, Yio Chu Kang, Zhenghua.

McDonald's

North: Ang Mo Kio Ave 10, Ang Mo Kio 4, Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, Ang Mo Kio Park, Hougang, Hougang 8, Sengkang Rivervale, Serangoon Ave 3, Sun Plaza, Yishun Safra, Woodlands Mart, Bishan Park.

South: Queensway, *Scape Park, PSA.

East: Bedok Interchange, Bedok North, Bedok Reservoir, DownTown East, Geylang East Central, Kallang, Tampines East CC, Pasir Ris Sports and Recreation Centre, Tampines Neighborhood 3.

West: Bukit Batok, Chua Chu Kang CC, Fajar, Farrer Road, Jurong Bowl, Jurong East 24, Bukit Gombak, Beauty World, JEM, West Coast Park, Jurong Central Park, Trade Hub 21, Jurong Spring CC, Clementi Mall.

Selected pubs/eateries

Penny Black, Hard Rock Cafe, Holland Village Food Court, Brotzeit at Raffles City, Muddy Murphy's.


This article was first published on JULY 4, 2014.
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