Football: S-League, soon to be 20, to get makeover

Home United (in red) in an S-League match against Tampinese Rovers on Nov 8.
Home United (in red) in an S-League match against Tampinese Rovers on Nov 8. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The Football Association of Singapore is looking to rejuvenate the S-League, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. Initiatives include injecting more new blood and raising players' fitness levels.

For the next campaign, The Straits Times understands that the league will reduce each local club's quota of foreign players from five to three.

Also, the mandatory 2.4km fitness test run will have its passing mark lowered from 9min 45sec to 9:30.

However, the S-League is not revealing details yet, saying in a statement yesterday: "The S-League has always emphasised the importance of fitness, with the passing time for the 2.4km test being gradually reduced every year since we implemented it.

"More details for next season's S-League will be made known after the season has ended."

The curtains on this campaign will fall tonight after the RHB Singapore Cup final between Home United and Albirex Niigata at Jalan Besar Stadium.

With the LionsXII booted out of Malaysian competition on Tuesday night, there could be an influx of Singapore's top footballers into the S-League.

Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson said: "It is imperative to open up slots for young Singaporean players to play their way up to the national team. This is an opportune time for them to do so.

"The LionsXII players are coming back and it will be a boost for the league."

Geylang International general manager Andrew Ang added: "The reduction of foreign players may produce better quality younger and local players.

"The club are well-prepared to receive this new format if the changes really do take place."

But of dubious value is the lowering of the 2.4km run's passing mark by 15 seconds.

Thavaneson said: "In fact, 9min 30sec is still not enough. Professional players should aim to run in 8min 45sec. If not, they should look for an easier job."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 27, 2015, with the headline 'S-League, soon to be 20, to get makeover'. Subscribe