'Exit of Jermaine Pennant and Billy Mehmet will impact Tampines Rovers'

Doubts loom large over futures of Tampines stars after management's decision to reduce wage budget.

Jermaine Pennant
File Photo of Tampines Rovers winger Jermaine Pennant Reuters

Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra conceded the possible exit of foreign stars from the S.League side following reports of pay cuts at the club.

The Singapore giants have decided to considerably reduce the wage budget of the club and are against retaining players who do not accept their monthly salary cap of $2,500, according to reports.

The decision has sparked doubts over the future of ex-Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant, who signed up with the Stags ahead of the 2016 season, and other foreign and big names from the national team.

Notably, Pennant has been earning around $20,000 a month while the senior Singapore internationals are being paid $4000-$10,000.

Amidst all the uncertainty, Ramachandra has maintained his stand and said he wants to have a squad that will be affordable. He added that he would bring in young players to bolster the squad if the senior players leave the club at the end of the season.

"We have to make do with what we have. The long-term sustainability of the club is the top priority for us. We don't want to have an enlarged squad yet not be able to afford it," Ramachandra said on Sunday, as quoted by The Straits Times.

"If we lose the likes of Billy Mehmet and Jermaine Pennant and have fewer national players, for sure there will be some impact to the team.

"But one or two players don't make up a team. We will still have several senior players around, but if players do end up leaving, I will bring in the youths to fill the gaps and give them an opportunity to perform."

Meanwhile, Tampines also conceded the league title to Albirex Niigata but booked a place in the 2017 AFC Cup following their position as the highest-ranked local team in the 2016 league season.

Former chairman Teo Hock Seng had also chipped in with his views about the club situation. He expressed concerns about pay cut reports and insisted that the club needed big names to make an impact at the AFC Cup.

Coach Akbar Nawaz's side still have a lot to fight for in the ongoing season as it will face the White Swans in their final league game on Wednesday before meeting them again in the Singapore Cup final on Saturday.

The Singapore giants, despite the dull mood in the camp, are expected to fight hard as they would not want to end the season without a single piece of silverware.