S.League jersey sale draws flak

The decision to sell S.League jerseys at a discount of $10 each during a LionsXII match on Tuesday has upset sections of fans as well as one sponsor
It was intended to help drive fan interest but the sale of S.League jerseys at Bishan Stadium during the LionsXII's FA Cup match against DRB-Hicom FC on Tuesday has drawn a sharp response from at least one sponsor.

Local sports apparel company THORB, who are the official apparel sponsors for S.League side Tanjong Pagar United FC, posted a Facebook rebuke of the sale, hinting at disappointment at the low price of the jerseys.

The Facebook post read: "We were alerted by one of our fans of how THORB was being put on cheap sale without our knowledge. Many will say this is just business. But to us, THORB represents a spirit, an endeavour that many of us have been deeply passionate about over years."

The comment was accompanied by a screengrab of Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) Facebook post promoting the jersey sales at S$10 each.

Although it is not the first instance of FAS cross-promoting the S.League with the hugely popular LionsXII franchise, LionsXII match tickets were allowed to be reused for entry into Courts Young Lions' home games last year, this is the first time that direct jersey sales of S.League clubs have taken place at the Malaysian Super League side's home game.

When approached by Goal, THORB Managing Director, Kristian Thorbjornsen declined to comment but added: "We are disappointed but can't do anything about it."

Formed in 2008, THORB also sponsor the Singapore National Hockey Team, having stepped in in 2009, and have been working with Tanjong Pagar since the club's return to the S.League in 2011. The Jaguars' home kit for 2013 retailed at SGD$55.

Reaction from fans has been mixed with some claiming the sale cheapened the S.League brand while others supported the move and asked for a similar event at the next LionsXII home match on Saturday.

Fan Yimian Lin commented on the S.League Facebook page: "The S-League management have effectively damaged the branding of the respective apparel sponsors."

While another fan, Tel Porter wrote: "A great idea to sell previous years stock and encourage people to wear shirts that represent their home clubs rather than clubs thousands of miles away. Its a great idea to let people get into the spirit of the league."

Singapore footbal fan, Erene Lim who attended the match and visited the sales booth on Tuesday was surprised at the low prices of the jerseys, especially the higher end brands.

"There are some brands such as SVOLME which are usually really expensive, and now it's only S$10," said Lim.

"It's good, if the jerseys get out there, it still benefits the S.League though it does put the league in a low light."

It is believed that it is within the rights of the FAS to price the jerseys and hold the sale. Fans have also pointed out that the jerseys sold were from last season and the large discount is not an uncommon practice in other countries. FAS could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

The new season of the S.League starts February 21 with the Community Shield clash between Tampines Rovers and Home United. The LionsXII meanwhile take on Selangor on Saturday 730pm at the Jalan Besar Stadium.