Key changes for the 2018 season

The Tampines Rovers squad at the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji on Nov 12 2017.
The Tampines Rovers squad at the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji on Nov 12 2017. PHOTO: SINGAPORE TURF CLUB

Funding

•The six senior local clubs - Tampines Rovers, Home United, Geylang International, Warriors FC, Hougang United and Balestier Khalsa - are assured a sum of $888,200 for the 2018 season, a drop of about 19 per cent from 2017.

•The FAS' top brass stressed that players' salaries will not be affected, with the cuts made affecting only "administrative" aspects such as insurance subsidies.

Age quota

•Each senior local team will have a minimum of 19 and a maximum of 25 players.

•Under-23s and U-30s: For squads with 19 to 22 players, a minimum of six must be aged 23 and under, with another eight below 30. If a club wish to register more players beyond the 22, they can add only U-23 locals .

•Foreigners: A maximum of two can be signed by each team, with no age restrictions.

•Over-30s: This leaves room for up to six locals who are 30 or older (36 in the entire league). FAS deputy president Bernard Tan said that no one will be denied the chance to play because they are "overaged", citing 2017 registration figures - only 28 will be above 30 next year.

Rules for fielding players

•Teams must start at least three U-23 locals in every match.

•An U-23 player must be replaced by another if the substitution occurs in the first half.

Young Lions, Albirex and DPMM

•The Young Lions, a developmental U-21 team, will compete for another two seasons, until 2019.

•Albirex Niigata, S-League champions in 2016 and 2017, will register a squad almost entirely aged 23 or younger - nine U-23s, as well as between nine and 13 U-21s. Goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa, 38, is the only one above 23. They also have the option of signing two Singaporean U-23s.

•The squad make-up of Brunei DPMM FC is still being discussed.

Kick-off and match days

•The 2018 season starts on March 31 with the Community Shield match between Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers at the Singapore Sports Hub. The season will run till end October to allow the national team to prepare for the AFF Suzuki Cup at the end of the year.

•Matches kick off on Saturdays and Sundays at 5.30pm.

•The League Cup is dropped to ease fixture congestion.

Others

•The S-League could be re-branded as the Singapore Premier League. FAS officials say discussions are ongoing.

•The 2.4km fitness test will be replaced by the Yo-Yo test which will be held twice or thrice across the season. The FAS is still discussing with the Singapore Sports Institute to determine the passing mark.

•The Prime League, an U-21 competition, will be scrapped. Teams will be encouraged to play non-competitive matches with their reserve players against the same opponents at the same venues, a day after scheduled S-League matches.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2017, with the headline 'Key changes for the 2018 season'. Print Edition | Subscribe