Singapore football is in a perilous state, with Singaporean professional league witnessing a decline in terms of crowds, sponsors and quality of players, said Englishman Steve Darby in a blog.
Darby, best known as a television pundit for ESPN-Star Sports, cited "appalling leadership" and failure to kickoff ASEAN Super League for the current mess in Singapore football that saw "Singapore go from a leader in Southeast Asia to one of the worst in the region in just half a decade."
Darby's comments were seen in a blogpost on the ESPN website.
Former Laos manager Steve Darby, who has also coached Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City in Indian football, has suggested five things to improve a dire situation that includes getting more Singaporeans to play football, better facilities, strict action for on match fixers, getting private investment and showing flexibility with National Service.
While Darby lauded efforts by the Singapore authorities to increase the number of students playing football from 3,000 to more than 10,000 in 2022, he believes more needs to be done.
"...they also need to dig deeper to find out why talented Chinese kids aren't taking up the sport, and try to establish football role models to inspire them," Darby wrote in his blog.
In terms of sports facilities, Darby insisted that the Football Association of Singapore must coordinate with politicians to provide land, where kids can play.
"What is the sports' minister's explanation for the fact that Singapore now lags behind Cambodia, Laos and Mynmar in football terms?," he questioned in his blog.
When it comes to investment in sports, Singapore still lags behind despite being the richest country in ASEAN, with many huge corporations.
"The reality is Singapore football needs private investment linked to community teams," said Darby.
"Develop strong community clubs, such as Woodlands and Tampines, and make fans want to go to games to support their local teams, through the use of conventional and social media."