Football: AIA Community Shield to kick off 2020 SPL season on Feb 22

Home United celebrate after winning the Singapore Premier League Community Shield on Feb 23, 2019 at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Home United celebrate after winning the Singapore Premier League Community Shield on Feb 23, 2019 at Jalan Besar Stadium.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The 2020 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season will kick off with the AIA Community Shield on Feb 22 (6pm) as champions Brunei DPMM take on Komoco Motors Singapore Cup winners Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The 25th season of the SPL will begin on Feb 29 with Albirex Niigata hosting Geylang International at the Jurong East Stadium, while Home United face DPMM at Bishan Stadium.

Nine teams will feature this season, with Tanjong Pagar United rejoining the SPL after sitting out of the domestic professional football league since 2015. This is the Jaguars' second return after they were excluded in 2005 due to financial woes. They featured again from 2011-2014 before sitting out in 2015 after running into money woes again.

Tanjong Pagar will take the place of the beleaguered Warriors FC, who were told by the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) last month to sit out the 2020 season. The nine-time champions have been beset by financial problems since 2018 and the FAS said that the club owed more than $800,000 to players, staff, the Central Provident Fund Board and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore as of last year.

This SPL season will also see venue changes for two clubs, with the Young Lions to play their home games at Jurong West Stadium, while Hougang United will move back to their previous home at Hougang Stadium.

Both teams were based at the Jalan Besar Stadium last year, and the venue's artificial pitch will be re-turfed as part of its extensive renovations, said the FAS in its media release on Friday (Jan 24).

The pitch was last re-turfed in 2014 and it will be changed to a higher quality surface to sustain programming that includes SPL matches, international matches and tournaments from age-group to senior level, ActiveSG Football Academy sessions, various coaching clinics and community events, and more, added the association.

The FAS said that it is "imperative" that the pitch is upgraded to ensure that it is acceptable to Fifa and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) standards. Work will begin in late February and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

FAS President Lim Kia Tong said: "We appreciate we have to improve the quality of the pitch and we are determined to do so. We have taken feedback from stakeholders and clubs over the past two years and with the assistance of FIFA Forward funding and Sport Singapore's support, we are glad to be able to commence re-turfing works at Jalan Besar in order to further elevate the quality of the pitch."

 

Hougang United head coach Clement Teo, whose side posted its highest-ever finish of third last season, said: "Our team adapted very well at the Jalan Besar Stadium last year and have good memories of the exciting matches played there, as well as the tremendous support from our fans. However, we fully understand the need for the upcoming revamp and are very much looking forward to returning to an improved facility."

The 2020 SPL season is scheduled to end in mid-September, with the Singapore Cup to commence after.

Visit SPL fixtures for the full list of fixtures for the 2020 SPL season.