How Lion City Sailors are outspending other Singapore Premier League clubs

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Singapore

Publishing organisation: The Straits Times

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 2022-06-26

Language: English

Authors: Alyssa Karla Mariano Mungcal – UI/UX Designer
Anton Dzeviatau – Data Visualisation Developer
Billy Ker – Illustrator
Chng Choon Hiong – Illustrator
Christopher Udemans – Digital Graphics Journalist and project lead
David Lee – Journalist
Deepanraj Ganesan – Journalist
Rodolfo Pazos – Interactive Graphics Editor
Roman Sverdan – Data Visualisation Developer


The Straits Times digital graphics team is a multi-disciplinary team focused on creating high-quality data-driven and visuals projects for editorial. Our audience are mostly Singaporeans from all walks of life, so we balance innovation and functionality for all of our projects.

Project description:

A data-driven profile of Singapore’s first private football club, the Lion City Sailors. In the interactive, we look at what makes the team different, how they hope to reach the top of the league, and how much the players on the team are worth.

Impact reached:

The interactive was well-received by local supporters and clubs alike. In addition, the article was a finalist for the “”Story of the year”” award by the Football Association of Singapore.

The project was also one of the first times Singapore’s Premier League was being looked at in a data-driven way, providing insights into how some of the teams are structured and the ratio between local and foreign players.

Techniques/technologies used:

For the introductory scrolly, we sourced photos of all players’ faces and processed the images. These were then incorporated into the beeswarm chart, which was built using D3 and our in-house Vue.js template, like all the other graphics in the page.

The data for the project was sourced by scraping information for teams from Singapore, Asia, and the rest of the world.

For the last illustrated section, we created the images in SVG and used Javascript to handle the animations.

Context about the project:

One of the major challenges when finalising this piece had to do with the final illustrated section. We had issues with some of the SVGs and animations crashing the page. We eventually had to take layers out of each of the illustrations one by one to find the problem and sort it out. The process was time consuming but gave some insights into making sure the SVGs we use are structured well when they are created.

Another challenge came in the form of availability of data, and the nature of football in Singapore. We set out to base the project on the transfer fees of players in Singapore, only to realise that this metric did not relate to the majority of players in the league. We eventually had to decide on a proxy: the value of the player at that particular time, which meant we had to rethink some of the visual elements on the page.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Sports provide wonderful opportunities for data and graphics stories, sometimes in ways that are not initially very obvious. The idea from the story came from a question one of our team at the Straits Times had—what makes the Lion City Sailors different and just how much is the team worth? If you are thinking about a question, it’s likely that other people are too, and a story built on that enquiry is likely to resonate with readers.

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