Football: S-League clubs to get same funding as last season, league opener set for Feb 26

The S-League will hope that staging its season opener on Feb 26 at the National Stadium can create some buzz and vibrancy during an uncertain time in local football.
The S-League will hope that staging its season opener on Feb 26 at the National Stadium can create some buzz and vibrancy during an uncertain time in local football. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore - The ailing S-League received a much-needed antidote on Friday (Jan 13) after a high-level meeting at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

On top of being informed that it will receive the same level of funding for the new season, it was revealed that the season opener on Feb 26 will be played at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium.

The meeting was attended by members of the FAS provisional council as well as the clubs' chairmen and key officials.

Football Association of Singapore (FAS) interim president Lim Kia Tong told The Straits Times his provisional council had been working behind the scenes to ensure stability for the league amid a turbulent period for Singapore football.

Lim, who is also the deputy chairman of world football body Fifa's disciplinary committee, said: "This gives the clubs stability ahead of the new season. The provisional council is always looking at the big picture.

"We also want to market the S-League and playing at the National Stadium is one way of creating vibrancy."

Clubs operate on a budget of around $1.5 million a year and Lim said the subsidies will cover some 80 per cent of this, similar to last season.

Lim added that the meeting went well while there were also discussions on how to promote the league in the new season.

The news will provide some cheer in what is an uncertain time in local football.

Last week, local sport governing body Sport Singapore said they would administer the funding the FAS receives from the Tote Board.

Previously, the FAS could administer the subsidy, believed to be around $25 million annually, directly.

The S-League is also without a chief executive officer after previous incumbent Lim Chin stepped down last week.

Adding to the uncertainty is the upcoming FAS elections, which have to be held by May and is the association's first democratic election of office bearers.

Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra was a relieved figure after the meeting.

The Stags, league runners-up last season, will play reigning champions Albirex Niigata in the season opener, which doubles up as the Charity Shield.

Typically, the previous year's league champions play the Singapore Cup winners in the Charity Shield. However, Albirex swept all trophies on offer last year.

Krishna said: "At last there is clarity ahead of the new season. We have had to take a leap of faith because of our Asian Football Federation (AFC) commitments and this is good news.

"We've a lot of national players in our team so we certainly look forward to playing at the National Stadium."