Singapore-based internet company Sea has acquired Home United Football Club (FC), and rebranded it as Lion City Sailors FC. The launch of Lion City Sailors FC is an attempt to inject fresh momentum for the Singapore Premier League (SPL). The Football Association of Singapore also aims to use this project to build a sustainable model for the local football scene that will encourage more corporate involvement from other companies.
Additionally, the football club will focus on youth development and groom the next generation of talents. There are also plans to enhance the structure of the current youth academy. Launched with a new kit and squad, the Lion City Sailors FC will be making its debut in the upcoming season of SPL.
In a statement to Marketing, a spokesperson from Sea said it aims to set an example for Singapore football with the acquisition by building a club that can be successful both on and off the field. Sea chose to acquire Home United FC because it has a great reputation for the standard of management and corporate governance- not just in Singapore but across Asia as well.
Badri Ghent, general manager of Lion City Sailors FC, told Marketing that the "Sailors" in its new name is a nod to Sea, while Lion City refers to Singapore, representing the football club's roots as a Singapore club. Ghent added that the club will share Sea’s five core values- we serve, we adapt, we run, we commit, and we stay humble- as well as its mission to better the lives of the people in its community. When asked about the club's future marketing strategies, Ghent said it will be focusing on accessibility and engagement with the public as fans and local football community are "the most important stakeholders to any club's success".
Ghent believes that the launch of Lion City Sailors FC will encourage more involvement in the local football scene from corporate companies. "SPL has welcomed the idea of having more corporate involvement to invigorate the league. We think it is vital that this initiative not only helps Lion City Sailors to achieve success, but sets an example for Singapore football more broadly, and encourages more private players to support the game," he said.
Forrest Li, the founder, chairman and group CEO of Sea, will serve as chairman of the Lion City Sailors FC. He takes over former chairman of Home United FC Winston Wong. Sea (formerly known as Garena Interactive Holding) is the parent company of Shopee, Garena, and SeaMoney. Founded in 2009, Sea has presence in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Li said Sea is proud to play its part in boosting Singapore football, and intends for Lion City Sailors FC to set a new benchmark for footballing excellence in Singapore and the region. The acquisition of Lion City Sailors FC is in line with Sea’s commitment to the development of Singapore football, which includes Garena’s sponsorship of the Young Lions in 2016, Li said.
Lim Kia Tong, the president of the Football Association of Singapore said this project is a "significant milestone" for the SPL, and could potentially shape the future of Singapore's football scene. "Sea has a proven track record of building and managing successful businesses, and the FAS has complete confidence in their ability to steer the club to new heights, he added.