Football: Cloud over Eagles amid lean times

INDRA SAHDAN
INDRA SAHDAN

Indra and Delgado's pay docked while others at Geylang Int'l warned over part-time work

It has been a week since the S-League football season ended but while it is generally a time of consolidation for many clubs, a cloud of uncertainty has descended upon Geylang International.

The Bedok-based club, who finished fifth in the nine-team league, will not pay two of their players their December salaries.

In addition, some players, who supplemented their income by driving for Uber, have been ordered to stop such off-field activity.

Former national captain Indra Sahdan, who is on a 12-month contract, told The Straits Times that he has been informed that he will not be paid the final month of his salary. He claimed that he learnt this via a text message from team manager Aizat Ramli in the wee hours on one day last week. Aizat could not be contacted for comment.

Said Indra, who won 113 caps and scored 31 goals for Singapore: "It's a bit sad to get such a message at 1am but I guess the management has its reasons.

A LOSING BATTLE

The league started so well. There were good crowds and we had good-quality foreigners. But after six or seven years, it all went south and nothing has changed since then.

INDRA SAHDAN, Geylang International striker and former Lions captain, on the travails of the S-League.

"The chairman is a very reasonable person, I hope we can talk things over."

The striker signed a part-time contract with the Eagles this season, juggling football with his airport limousine business.

Fellow forward Carlos Delgado, a 30-year-old Argentinian, also confirmed that he will be meeting Geylang chairman Ben Teng to resolve the non-payment.

On Indra and Delgado's situation, Teng, who took over the reins of the two-time S-League champions from former national player Leong Kok Fann last November, told ST: "This was the coach's (Hasrin Jailani) call."

It is believed that the club docked Indra's salary as it is displeased that he missed many training sessions while Delgado had some disagreement with the management over money.

While Indra, who played in the S-League's inaugural season in 1996, is hopeful of reaching a settlement with his club, he has also decided to hang up his boots for good.

The 37-year-old said: "In a way, I feel very sad, too. I never thought I would go out like that after 20 years (in the S-League).

"The league started so well. There were good crowds and we had good-quality foreigners.

"But after six or seven years, it all went south and nothing has changed since then.

"My son is 11 now. If he wants to play football, I will tell him to study first. It is too difficult to have a stable career in the S-League now."

It is believed that Geylang have been generous paymasters this year, with junior national players, who typically earn about $4,000, being paid $5,500 to $7,000 at the Bedok Stadium if they are on full-time deals.

Teng, a Singaporean businessman based in Abu Dhabi for the past decade, revealed that as many as 12 players in his 22-man squad signed two-year full-time contracts at the beginning of this season.

The 42-year-old said: "The management committee made most of the decisions regarding the handing out of contracts last season, before I came on board.

"But I spoke to all the (full-time) players last week and I intend to honour their contracts."

Teng also revealed his concern that some of his full-time players, including a national player, are earning extra by driving for Uber and explained why he has decided to impose a ban on such activities.

Said Teng: "The players have to sign declarations that they do not have other employment outside of football and unfortunately, that has not been followed.

"If we are a semi-pro team, it is fine. But if we are fully professional, we should be focused on raising our playing standards and should not be distracted by off-field activities like driving cabs."

While admitting that he is new to the business of running a local football club, Teng is determined to iron out the bumps and lead Geylang to a higher finish next season.

He said: "It has not been easy (running the club) but my target is to restore Geylang to its glory days once again."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2016, with the headline 'Cloud over Eagles amid lean times'. Print Edition | Subscribe