Football: Pennant to quit Tampines

Jermaine Pennant during a training session, the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger has confirmed that he is leaving Tampines Rovers.
Jermaine Pennant during a training session, the former Arsenal and Liverpool winger has confirmed that he is leaving Tampines Rovers. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Englishman will return home as Stags cannot accommodate him on new revenue model

Jermaine Pennant, arguably the biggest name ever to grace the S-League has called time on his Singapore stint.

Yesterday, Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra told The Straits Times that the 33-year-old Englishman would leave the club as both parties could not agree on a new deal.

The former Arsenal and Liverpool winger joined the Stags at the beginning of this year. He is believed to be earning around $20,000 a month.

The Stags' last match of the season is the Singapore Cup final against Albirex Niigata tomorrow.

Krishna said: "Pennant has contributed greatly to the team in terms of the style of play and guiding younger players and has generated the hype needed to resuscitate interest in local football.

 

"But the club are looking at a revenue model that is sustainable. He politely considered our offer but ultimately we could not afford someone of his stature."

Tampines are adopting cost-cutting measures for next season, having earlier made a decision not to operate jackpot machines. While it was a huge source of revenue for local football teams, Krishna decided to drop the model, calling it a "social ill".

Pennant, a former England Under-21 international, confirmed his departure and said he would leave for London next Wednesday.

He will take a break and return to football in January when the transfer window opens.

On where he will next play, the 2007 Champions League finalist with Liverpool said: "Probably in the Championship (second tier), back in England. But I don't want to say which team because I don't want to jinx anything."

Pennant arrived to much fanfare, generating excitement not seen since the early years of the 21-year-old competition. A pre-match friendly against Hougang at the Jalan Besar Stadium attracted close to 2,000 fans, a turnout almost unheard of in local football for many years.

The season, however, did not go as planned for the five-time S-League champions. They were expected to challenge for multiple honours with a star-studded squad that included Singapore internationals Izwan Mahbud and Shahdan Sulaiman.

Tampines finished second in the S-League, one point behind Albirex, although the Japanese team had the title sewn up with two games to spare. The White Swans also knocked Tampines out of the League Cup in the semi-finals.

On the continental stage, the Stags reached the Asian Football Confederation Cup quarter-finals, the first time since 2008 that a local team had advanced that far. There, they were eliminated by India's Bengaluru FC.

But both Krishna and Pennant felt that overall, the season had been a success.

Pennant said: "I won't say it's a failure. If we'd won the league, it'd probably be a bit better, but hopefully we can end on a good note and win on Saturday."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2016, with the headline 'Pennant to quit Tampines'. Print Edition | Subscribe