Singapore internet giant Sea Group wants to "elevate" the football scene in the country, by acquiring and rebranding local football club, Home United.
The company has assumed 100% ownership of the club, which will make its debut in the upcoming Singapore Premier League (SPL) season under a new name, Lion City Sailors FC.
Publicly-listed Sea is the parent company of Shopee, Garena and SeaMoney and is the largest consumer internet company in Singapore. This announcement follows the Shopee's high-profile marketing deal with football star Ronaldo and the online retailer.
The acquisition forms part of Sea’s long-standing commitment to the development of Singapore football, which includes Garena’s sponsorship of the Young Lions in 2016. Sea's founder, chairman and group CEO Forrest Li as also sat on the Football Association of Singapore Council since 2017.
Li will now serve as chairman of Lion City Sailors FC. He hopes the club will "set a new benchmark for footballing excellence" in Singapore and the region.
He said: “Sea is proud to be a Singaporean company, and we are proud to play our part in elevating Singapore football to the next level."
The club's outgoing chairman Winston Wong said he was "proud to pass the baton over to Sea, a company that shares our passion for football, commitment to community, and focus on achieving success."
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has backed the move, saying it will "strengthen" the Singapore Premier League (SPL).
President Lim Kia Tong said: “This pilot project is a significant milestone for the league as it enters its 25th season and marks a historical chapter that could potentially shape the future of the professional football landscape in Singapore. 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.”
The club is planning to enhance the structure of its youth academy to help "provide our youths the best possible platform to pursue their passion for football and develop their talents,” said Li.