Brunei DPMM could pull out of 2018 S.League
The 2018 S.League season could kick off with eight teams instead of nine after Brunei DPMM FC, champions in 2015, announced on their official website late on Monday that they are planning to play in the top-tier Indonesian league next year.
This came after club officials met the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on Monday to discuss the new regulations for the upcoming season. On the same day, the national body announced revamp plans aimed at reviving the Republic's professional football league, which starts on March 31, 2018.
An age quota aimed at giving younger players more exposure will be imposed on the six local clubs while Japanese outfit Albirex Niigata - the S.League's other foreign side - will also be subjected to restrictions.
For a 21-man squad, Albirex - quadruple champions in the last two seasons - must have nine Under-21 players, nine U-23s and only one player of any age. They will be allowed to sign two U-23 Singaporeans.
It is unclear if such conditions will apply to DPMM, but The Straits Times understands the meeting with FAS did not go well. DPMM officials were uncontactable at press time yesterday.
But a source close to the club said that while DPMM respect the FAS' focus on youth, the age restrictions and a reduction in the foreign player quota to two will impact their ability to be competitive.
ST understands that DPMM had signed a contract to play in Singapore's domestic competitions this year and the deal comes with an option to renew for another year. DPMM also revealed on their website that their plan to join the Malaysian league fell through.
FAS president Lim Kia Tong told ST: "We knew that their attempt to participate in the Malaysian league wasn't successful, but they did not indicate that they wanted to play elsewhere next year."
Lim declined to reveal details of his meeting with DPMM officials but added: "We made it clear that we do want DPMM to continue to participate in our league, and we will do what we can to accommodate them for this to continue." - SHAMIR OSMAN