S.League: Tampines' ex-chairman Teo concerned about player exits after pay cut reports

Teo feared a dip in the quality of football if the pay cut forces player exits at Tampines.

Jermaine Pennant
File Photo of Tampines winger Jermaine Pennant (L) Reuters

Tampines Rovers' former chairman Teo Hock Seng expressed concerns about the reported pay cut plans of the S.League club that is likey to force player exits.

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.

However, The Stags have international superstars of the likes of former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant, BIlly Mehmet and Jordan Webb, who reportedly draw more than $10,000 a month.

Chairman Krishna Ramachandra, who took over from Teo last year, has said the cost cuts were intended to make the club more sustainable and that they had to indicate the players about it. The 41-year-old reportedly added he would not rule out the exit of Pennant, who signed for the club ahead of the ongoing S.League season on $20,000 a month.

While the club has failed to win the S.League title this season after Albirex Niigata sealed an unassailable 10-point lead with a 3-0 win over Hougang United on Friday, they have already secured a berth in next year's AFC Cup after being the highest-ranked local club in the league.

Also, the Tampines reached the quarterfinal of the ongoing AFC Cup tournament becoming the first Singapore club to do so since 2008. However, they were beaten by the I.League club Bengaluru FC in the last-eight clash.

Teo, under whom the Tampines won five league titles, believes the club needs big names and quality players in order to build on the success of their 2016 AFC Cup campaign and compete at the Asian stage.

"What is happening at Tampines and how are they going to represent Singapore at the Asian level if they are only going to settle for players who are going to accept $2,500 salaries," Leo was quoted as saying by The New Paper.

"Something has to be done. The financial situation has to be sorted out first."

The Stags faced a cash-flow issue mid-season after enjoying all the attention, with big-money signings before the start of the league and by appointing ex-Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier as the international ambassador of the club.

Krishna even went on to seek help from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), which offers an annual subsidy of $800,000 to the clubs, according to reports. The club's decision to stop running Jackpot machines, which contributed largely to the earnings of S.League clubs, also did not help their cash-flow crisis.

In July, Krishna reportedly insisted the Tampines have secured a $850,000 in cash sponsorship and a commercial deal that would help them sustain the ongoing and upcoming seasons. However, the recent decision of the management has shocked players and is likely to affect the ability of the Singapore giants to compete in top-flight competitions.