Footballing Weekly: Have Brunei's DPMM been beneficial to Singapore football?

DPMM FC won the S-League in 2015. (PHOTO: DPMM/FAS)
DPMM FC won the S-League in 2015. (PHOTO: DPMM/FAS)

SINGAPORE — Two-time Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions DPMM FC are set to return to the league after a three-year hiatus.

After sitting out the past three SPL seasons due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the Brunei-based club told The Straits Times last week that they have received confirmation from the Football Association of Singapore that they will be competing in the upcoming season, which is expected to kick off in February.

While the club have traditionally been competitive, and do boast a healthy crowd at its 28,000-seat Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium home ground, it remains a longstanding debate whether DPMM is ultimately beneficial in raising the standard of Singapore football.

After all, DPMM are insistent on playing their home games in Bandar Seri Begawan, which is about 1,270 kilometres or a two-hour plane flight from Singapore.

Not only will most SPL fans not make the long trip to support their teams on away games, but they also find it hard to relate to a non-Singapore club thousands of kilometres away from home.

This is unlike the case of Albirex Niigata (Singapore), the other club that consisted mainly of non-Singapore players. Despite their Japanese roots, Albirex are based in Singapore, have done impressive community outreach work in their Jurong East neighbourhood, and have regularly brought in promising Singapore-born players into their fold.

DPMM have done none of those, and so the debate on their SPL participation will persist as long as they are not doing so.

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