Tuesday, July 22, 2014
LionsXII Likely To Stick Around
SINGAPORE — The LionsXII are set to participate in the Malaysian Super League (MSL) and Malaysia Cup beyond 2015, when the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in 2011 expires.
Under the MOU, both associations agreed to continue to have a team in each other’s league for developmental purposes, and with one season left, all indications are that the deal will be re-struck.
“We remain deeply appreciative of the opportunity to be part of the MSL, which has helped in the development of young players, provided new career options for some of our players and coaches and also given Singapore football a boost,” said FAS director of marketing and communications Gerard Wong.
The LionsXII made their MSL debut in 2012, finishing runners-up that season before winning the title last year. Although they finished eighth in the MSL this year, FAM secretary-general Hamidin Amin told TODAY the Singaporean side have added value to Malaysia’s premier domestic league competition.
“The LionsXII bring a different kind of excitement to the competition. Being a ‘foreign’ team, it generates a lot attention, which is good for the game. We must also not forget that matches between the LionsXII and the Malaysian teams will help develop the friendship and relationship between the two sets of supporters,” he said.
“I am sure that it has helped the LionsXII improve the skills of their U-23 players and those from the senior team in preparation for international competitions.”
There is a caveat though, as TODAY understands that the FAM is mulling over whether or not to subject the LionsXII to the relegation and promotion rule, and also to fix the quota of players aged under 23 and above that would be allowed in their squad. The FAM takes a lenient stance on the U-23 player rule, as it understands restrictions posed on the LionsXII by Singapore’s National Service policy.
For now, there is no clear guideline on whether the LionsXII would be subject to relegation to the second-tier Malaysian Premier League should they finish in the bottom two of the 12-team MSL.
“I am not at liberty to release the details, but obviously if Singapore is to continue to take part in the MSL, there will have to be some changes,” said Hamidin.