Newly-elected Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong has hinted that the governing body is focussed on improving local leagues - S.League and National Football League (NFL) - rather than preparing a team to play in the proposed Asean Super League (ASL).
The statement comes in contrast to ASL task force chief and former president of FAS Zainudin Nordin's opinion, which was firmly in favour of sending top players from the country to play for a Singapore-represented club in the trans-national regional league, which was expected to kickstart in August 2017.
Speculations were rife about FAS' plans to revamp the now-defunct Lions XII for representing the republic in the ASL, a move which has reportedly faced opposition from top stars including former Tampines Rovers player, Jermaine Pennant. An online petition, started by local football personality R Vengadasalam, also began to circulate in Singapore, opposing the proposed league last year.
"If our own league is not doing well, then it doesn't make sense for us to send only a small group of players to form a team to participate in the ASL because that will benefit only this small group as opposed to the bigger picture of a more vibrant and successful S.League," Lim said, as quoted by The New Paper.
"There was an attempt to sell the ASL in a very vibrant formula because it will give the opportunity for our players to be playing at another level. But, in order to do that, we must look at our own league first."
S.League, NFL into single strcuture?
While hinting about the possibility of streamlining S.League and NFL into a single structure that has promotion and relegation system, Lim said that FAS will try to help NFL clubs find sponsors as he believes a well-maintained semi-profressional league, which recently landed a sponsor, will bring in healthy ecosystem in Singapore football.
"If we do something good for the S.League, we do something good for the NFL, and we see better results in youth development, that will pave the way for a promising start for Singapore football," the FAS president added.