Sunday, September 6, 2009

Point of View – Weekday crowds myth

Unless one was living in a cave, one would have learned by now that AFC had harsh words for the leadership in FAS for their running of the S-league and it was not pretty as unlike the past, AFC came out to state S-league cannot become a top 10 Asian league under FAS guidance as it dealt a blow to FAS boast 2 years ago to turn S-league into ASEAN top league.

Still, the response of FAS to AFC criticisms showed the leadership in FAS have no intentions of changing their ways.

However, before any decision is make for next season, it may indeed be time for FAS to review their policy of no S-league matches on weekend - no matter the circumstances - as the one coming out the loser may be the S-league and the clubs.

The thinking that if no S-league matches are played on weekends, when the EPL is playing, would ensure a packed crowds for the clubs in the stadium on weekdays have no ground to stand if one was to look at facts that have surfaced.

Last season, when Tampines Rovers met Home United, 2 of the most exciting teams at that time, in the championship decider at Tampines Stadium, it was played on Thursday, a weekday, and were the clubs and FAS to be shocked as the expected capacity crowd never arrived and the final figure for the match was just 3161.

For this season when Tampines Rovers met SAFFC in a clash that was billed as a championship decider, it was on a weekend as the Stags had commitments in Asia and was one in for a shock when a final figure of 3232 (which is bigger than last season billed championship decider) turned out for the match.

It was despite having to face up against Manchester United popularity in the Republic as the English club had a game on at the same time and not helping the S-league any further was that it was opening day for the EPL and many places had scheduled events for it.

If one game cannot be the litmus test FAS need to be confident about scheduling matches on weekend, then FAS should look at another titanic clash on a weekend when the crowds attendances was more impressive than one can hoped for with S-league up against EPL as Tampines Rovers clashed with Woodlands Wellington - a week earlier - with the EPL Asian Cup ongoing.

A final attendance of 3633 was present and it showed S-league do have its own appeal and if the match was big enough there will be crowds at the stadium even on a weekend when EPL was showing on television.

So it is almost a myth that an S-league match is better on a weekday, no matter the significance of the match, as certain games involving gigantic S-league clubs, who would be playing the type of game that would be the billboards for the S-league, is best played on weekend when adults and students would not be rushing to work and school the next day thus enjoying their night out.

A game, for the remaining of this season, to test such intention is coming and one need not look further than the clash of Woodlands Wellington against Tampines Rovers on the last day of the S-league league season.

Therefore, the leadership in FAS must seriously show, not just AFC, but the fans in the Republic that they do have confident in the S-league for if they themslves have no confidence, why shlould other and be prepared to play certain matches on the weekend.

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