Singapore skipper Shahril Ishak wants S.League clubs to take cue from Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) on how to run football clubs in a "professional" manner.
The 32-year-old attacking midfielder is eyeing an S.League return after the end of his three-year contract with Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta'zim II. Notably, the Lions star was out of action from the local league for four years as he was with the now-defunct Lions XII as well.
Ishak stresses on the importance of improving S.League to create a larger pool of players for national team selection. The Lions skipper was part of the team's horrid campaign at the recently-concluded AFF Suzuki Cup and witnessed how good local leagues have helped Singapore's neighbouring countries.
The former Home United midfielder also heaped praise on JDT owner Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim (TMJ), the Crown Prince of Johor, for focussing on the all-round development of the Malaysian club. Notably, the regional giants, who have been dominating the Malaysian Super League, won the AFC Cup in 2015 and reached the semi-final stages this year.
"Our neighbouring countries now have very good local leagues and you can see from their results and performances at the Suzuki Cup that they've improved a lot over the years," Ishak said, as quoted by the Today Online.
"It is important for us to try and make the S.League more competitive, because that is one of the best ways to bring up the quality of the players here. After all, we need to try and increase the base of players in Singapore.
"Otherwise, if we have a limited pool of talented players, then the national coach will have very few options to call up for tournaments, and this will naturally affect how the national team performs.
"You look at TMJ, he doesn't just focus on building up the first team. He wants every aspect of his club to be run professionally — from the youths to the senior levels, everything must be top-notch. This is a mindset that we need local clubs to have as well."