The S.League has started and to be honest, I am concerned that the media has not stepped in and support the league. Sure, StarHub has been sponsoring the LionsXII and the League Cup. But why hasn't MediaCorp or Singtel come in to throw their weight behind our national league?
The first headlines propping the Straits Times last week after the first couple of games before even the 1st round was over, was discussing the low attendance despite the new season. S.League CEO Lim Chin later declared the success of the 1st round with 7,400 fans attending 6 matches. This is a mean average of 1233 per match considering that Harimau Muda B was playing in the late afternoon at Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, and Brunei DPMM was playing away in Singapore instead of the 20,000 seater Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.
What kind of a news media is this if they can't even support the nation's own league?
The role of the media in football is arguably the most important. The FAS spends the majority of their operating budget, paying Fox Sports and Starhub to broadcast the S.League live to homes in Singapore and Asia. This is unlike other countries where the broadcaster pays the FA for the rights to broadcast the league.
Similarly, the FAS has a standing agreement with Today for the free English language daily to provide newspaper coverage of the S.League, usually dedicating about 2 pages for S.League football.
Our media agencies should be behind the S.League in order for it to grow. Take the Malaysian Super League (MSL) for example. It is currently sponsored by Malaysian media juggernaut, Astro. The Malaysia Cup, one of Asia's oldest knockout competitions is sponsored by MediaPrima's eRa FM. Because of this, Astro broadcasts at least 1 to 2 matches a week out of a total of 6 games per round and eRa FM providing live radio broadcast to select Malaysia Cup games. The regular media coverage means that Malaysians are constantly being presented with quality football in their own local league beamed into their homes and regular preview and review shows ala ESPN make Malaysian football shows entertaining to watch. The result, attendances to the MSL has increased with the media doing their job to discuss football related news, transfers, politics, drama all in a week. You would get the public spat between Kelantan FA's president Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Johor FA's president Tunku Ismail Idris ibni Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, Tunku Mahkota Johor, and this off-the-field drama keeps fans talking.
Just imagine if MediaCorp were to sponsor the S.League? Live broadcast on Okto TV and 98.7FM with a daily broadsheet coverage on Today? Wouldn't it attract more fans to come down to the stadiums? What about increased viewer ratings?
To make the business pitch more enticing, throw in the LionsXII as part of an integrated sponsorship package. Sponsorship for the LionsXII must also come with a sponsorship for the S.League. This should eclipse the EPL as the football staple on Singapore TV.
As EPL subscriptions get more costly and out of reach to the average fan proven by more fans flocking to McDonald's as they can't afford the hefty fees, what local fans should do is to support its own local teams instead. It's cheaper, and a whole lot more value for money.