Keeping Football Fans Engaged (Series) – The Case of the Singapore Premier League (2nd Part)


Fans have a set of expectations when they arrive at the stadium. The young and the old fans, the fanatics, and the casual fans – they are all looking for a sense of fulfillment. Specifically, of practices that facilitate the achievement of fan engagement[1].

These attributes are a necessary prerequisite for establishing a congregation of satisfied fans. Where, instead of watching the football games from the screen of a television, they, the fans, decide to attend games in the stadiums. This notion helps to discuss the intertwining role of ambiance and emotions for the construction of a fulfilling experience as a fan.

Fans Expectations:

There are a plethora of attributes that fulfills the definition of fan expectations. Undoubtedly, at the top of the list is the quality of the game. Fans expect to be entertained by watching a high-quality game.

TSS 1: It is pertinent to note that these are expectations that do not include rationalization in its listing. Singapore’s football is ranked at 157[2] (as at 19 May 2020). It is safe to assume that the quality of football at this rank is not the same as those in the top 10 rankings.

However, the above should not be the determinant of fans choosing to attend games. On the other hand, the onus then falls into the hands of the learned fans to accept this reality.

TSP 1: In this instance, the emphasis is on fans to sustain a systemic change. Fans should not pin this attribute as the end-all-be-all in attending games. There are other attributes to complement this perceived weakness. To put in perspective, it is about managing the expectations.

The repertoire of attributes includes the expectation that football stadiums and venues are safe, comfortable, and clean. If there is one attribute where Singapore ranks highly, it is this. Safety and security in and around the stadium are strengthened by both uniformed and civvies personnel. The seating gallery in all sports venues is well-kept and maintained, and the persons ensuring the cleanliness of these venues are commendable. Furthermore, there is a more profound sense of civic duty in fans today.

The third attribute sees fans expecting an exciting atmosphere within the stadium. There have been recorded accounts where the atmosphere in and around the stadium lay birth to a uniquely Singapore terrace culture[3]. One that is colloquially distinctive in language but heavily foreign-influenced in dressing yet with the stark contrast of being boisterous but non-violent.

These fan groups are starting to emerge and with one such group being founded in the early 2010s. The existence of these fan groups, which are lucid and creatively expressive, stand instrumental in the creation of an exciting match atmosphere.

Needless to say, these attributes rank highly amongst football fans in Singapore and elsewhere. There are, however, a school of rebuttal thoughts to these attributes, and it is worthy of understanding why this is the case[4].

Arguably, the battle of fan engagement lies in the casual fans. Casual fans are defined as fans who watch a sport, and in this case football, every now and then[5]. There is a huge potential to draw in these groups of fans through consistent engagement and focus.

They are known to be attending games when it promises a high entertainment value, roughly translates to a “top of the table clash” matches; or on the other spectrum, they do not attend games at the stadium but instead takes up an inactive role as a fan, which includes subscribing to team news, information and updates.

TSS 2: Independent football-related media entities such as MatchDaySG[6], and Bolasepako[7] have been instrumental in flooding the digital realm with content that pertains to football in Singapore. As a result, the causality of their existence has won many new followers to the Singapore football scene.

These creative aspects do not behave as mere talking heads[8] or fame-seeking artists. They have given birth to the democratization of substantiated football canon in Singapore that has seen many casual fans converting into a “love-it fans”: defined as watching often and going to live events when they could[9].

TSP 2: The newly-formed Cyan Tongue acknowledges this cue and has begun in the journey as a love-it fan. It was this predisposition that has caused Cyan Tongue to be in attendance in the digital village of Singapore football. Albeit, a tad unfiltered (sic).

The product of the above seems to suggest that casual fans are receptive to elements surrounding the outer part of the football playing field. As an example from Cyan Tongue shows, there are many potentials to improve the indirect involvement of fans.

But are these independent football-related media entities necessary to propagate the reality of fans’ expectations? Are they equipped to last the distance and maintain their momentum in the nomenclature of an independent creative endeavor? Yet more importantly, can they draw fans to purchase tickets and attend games in person?

– to be continued –






[6] [7] [8] [9] #CyanTongue #KeepingFootballFansEngaged #SingaporePremierLeague #SPL #FansExpectations

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