Football: FAS offers more than $600,000 in subsidies to prevent pay cuts at local SPL clubs

Players relieved and grateful for gesture amid shutdown in local sport

A Singapore Premier League match between Tampines Rovers and Lion City Sailors on March 18, 2020. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

SINGAPORE - Singapore Premier League (SPL) players have expressed relief and gratitude after learning that their salaries will not be cut for now, even though the league has been suspended since March 24 owing to the global coronavirus pandemic.

After extensive discussions with the respective local clubs' chairmen and relevant stakeholders, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) announced on Wednesday (April 15) it will disburse a supplementary subsidy to "aid the clubs during this difficult period".

The Straits Times understands that the subsidy offered to each club - excluding Brunei DPMM and Young Lions - is $90,000 and is meant to cover their overheads such as rental and manpower costs. That amounts to some $630,000 for the seven sides and as such, there will not be any wage revisions for SPL club players and staff.

The FAS statement said "wage cuts at this juncture would be premature and such an action would only serve to be one that would be short-sighted and reactive".

Its president Lim Kia Tong added: "We have always maintained the view that the job security of our SPL players and club officials is of the utmost importance which is why we have arrived at a solution which does not impact their financial earnings at this juncture."

Earlier, following pay cuts implemented at major European clubs, SPL footballers were concerned if the same fate would befall them.

Sources told ST that a majority of the clubs was considering the cost-cutting move as jackpot operations - their primary source of revenue - had ceased after the Government implemented tighter measures to combat the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Tampines Rovers chairman Desmond Ong expressed gratitude to the FAS and his fellow chairmen for pulling together during such a critical period.

He said: "Despite the somewhat unnecessary speculation in recent weeks, I believe we have arrived at a solution that will give our players and staff a huge amount of comfort during these difficult times."

Local footballers ST spoke to agreed. Tanjong Pagar United defender Delwinder Singh said: "For all the gloom surrounding the league's suspension and not being able to train, this is great news.

"I feel it is a very good move and very professional of the authorities to help us through these tough times. This should spur us and I'm definitely even more grateful to the FAS and our club chairman Raymond Tang (and I will) push harder and further when the season resumes."

The FAS will collaborate with local SPL clubs to capitalise on the lull period by helping them further develop their capabilities and alleviate their main concern of long-term sustainability.

The initiative includes online courses for players, coaches and administrative staff to equip them with the necessary skill to be future-ready once the sport resumes. Greater focus will also be placed on ensuring that the players improve their current level of fitness while working out at home.

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