Singapore Football

Thavaneson: Changes had to be made

Balestier Khalsa chairman 
S Thavaneson wasn't surprised when The New Paper informed him of Paul Cunningham's anger over how the club treated the former defender.

Said the longtime football administrator (above): "His contract expired on Oct 31 and because we had the Singapore Cup final on Nov 7, we gave him an extension until Nov 15.

"He never came back to us on it and so his contract expired. The basis of giving him that extension was so that he could play in the final.

"After that, whether to keep him for 2015, no decision had been made."

Thava said he informed the squad before the cup final that no decisions would be made on any player - local or foreign - until after the cup final.

The message was delivered by him in the team's dressing room after a training session, with Cunningham in attendance.

The 66-year-old insisted that the basic salary terms on the proposed extension was "exactly the same" as the deal the player was on at the time, highlighting that the Kiwi was the highest-paid player at the club.

Going into the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season, Balestier have released four out of their five foreign imports from last season, including top scorer and marquee player Goran Ljubojevic.

South Koreans Park Kang Jin and Kim Minho are gone, with only Serbian defender Emir Lotinac retained.

"We felt it was time to freshen things up," Thava explained.

"It was the same thing with the local players - we let six of them go.

"Goran scored a lot of goals, but he was a marquee player and the marquee subsidy is now gone."

Balestier have signed Croatian defender Igor Cerina, formerly with Hougang United, and three of his countrymen who are all new to the S.League.

On Cunningham's release, Thava said: "When you join the club, I expect you to be loyal and perform to the best of your abilities. I don't expect you to be at the club forever.

"I have no qualms about (Paul's) service to the club all these years, but we had to make changes."