Duric: Scrap the LionsXII and Young Lions, not the S.League

Former Singapore international Aleksandar Duric believes disbanding both developmental squads and concentrating on the S.League is the way forward for local football.

We need to go out there and bring in more football people into the league and the FA. We need some ex-footballers to come in and speak the football language

- Aleksandar Duric

This comes after the long-standing battle between the S.League and two developmental squads for the best young talent came to a head during a meeting between the Football Association of Singapore and club chairmen on Monday night.

The consensus between the chairmen is that the LionsXII and Courts Young Lions have siphoned away the best local players, which resulted in the decline of the league over the past few years.

Speaking to FourFourTwo via a phone interview, Duric did not mince his words on this issue – calling for the two teams to be scrapped and more emphasis to be put on the S.League.

“It’s simple – we all know football here is in a big decline and we can’t hide that fact,” he said.

“Everything can be seen from the results of our national teams this year and my thought is that we should disband these two teams.

“You can see this Under-23 side (Young Lions); they don’t learn anything together except losing repeatedly. Why not separate the team, send three to four players to each local club and get them playing more football with experienced players?

“We’ve to realise that we’re a small country where there is no big pool of players. Honestly (for the LionsXII) I do not see the use of sending a group of players to play in another country. It’s only about the nostalgic feeling of bringing back the 70s and 80s, but there’s nothing else. We can’t even have full stadiums for the MSL (Malaysian Super League) games.”

 “The LionsXII is a project that’ll never work, so it’s time to stop looking at our neighbour’s door, and start focusing on our own league and trying to make it better. I’m worried if this continues, we won’t have any league within the next few years.”

Aleksandar Duric retired in 2014 after a 16-year S.League career. Photo: WX Lim

One of the suggestions bandied around was to close down the entire S.League and focus resources on three to four Singapore representative teams competing in competitions like the MSL and the mooted Asean Super League - something which Duric hopes will not materialise.

“I hope that doesn’t happen really,” said the 44-year-old, who had played 16 S.League seasons before hanging up his boots at the end of last year.

“I will not give up on the S.League because it is the future for the kids. What we need now is to revamp the league and have more young boys to stepping in to play because there are too many foreign players around at the moment.

“That’ll be a better idea in the long term than focusing on that three or four teams and carry on supplying them our best players.  We have to focus on getting our league back to where it was during 1996 to 2001. I hope to see the government giving more help and pumping in more money, because money talks in sport.”

Getting the right people in

S.League CEO Lim Chin was reportedly frustrated with the proceedings on Monday night and suggested he might step down if the FAS stayed the course. Duric empathises with him and believes local football can only prosper if things change at the very top.

“I can understand fully why he felt that way, especially when he has so many decisions blocked and can’t do anything,” he said.

“I honestly believe the existing people have stayed for too long and it’s time for some changes. We need to go out there and bring in more football people into the league and the FA. We need some ex-footballers to come in and speak the football language, try to change something and bring in fans to the stadiums.”

Last but not least, Duric wishes to see more local clubs and matches to be scheduled on weekends.

“The current format of 10 clubs is okay, but we need less foreign teams,” he said.

“I don’t see much difference from them and the local clubs. I would rather see the likes of Tanjong Pagar (United), Woodlands (Wellington) and Sembawang (Rangers). Also we need to revamp the timing; we can’t play every single day of the week.

“Nobody comes to watch when you play on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and somebody needs to realise this. I understand there’s the English Premier League (EPL) on weekends but you can put games at 6pm and let people choose. If EPL matches can kick off at lunch time, I don’t see why we can’t play at 6pm. It’s time we stop these excuses.” 

1 comment


Do we really think disbanding both LionsXII and Courts Young Lions will solve the problem for S.League? Okay, assuming the two teams are out and the crowd attendance remain the same or worst, what's next, stop Media broadcasting of EPL, La Liga etc.

Malaysian Super League (MSL) is a good league for LionsXII to experience competitive football but we should also include foreign players in LionsXll like all MSL teams, allowing the team to stay competitive, getting positive results and higher morale & confidence in our young players. MSL keeps football interest alive.

Yes, Courts Young Lions should discontinue and players should be distributed back to all S.League teams, allowing these groups of young players to continue playing active football. We should consider implementing player transfer fees so clubs can recover their investment on the player. This includes LionsXll or any local/foreign clubs interested in S.League club players, so LionsXll, pick your player carefully as it will cost you.

Our problem with S.League like Duric commented “because money talks in sport”. Yes, but where is the money? Singapore Pools has too many charitable groups to support and not just football, let alone S.League (Didn’t you realised Singapore Pools’ TOTO betting numbers has increase from 45 numbers to 49 numbers, not to mention the increased in the betting price? The money we keep asking needs to come from somewhere right?). Clubs should be financially independent and support from Singapore Pools should come as secondary.

The biggest and known problem for S.League clubs is the arrangement between Sport Singapore and FAS on the clubs’ stadium usage. How do you expect clubs to secure sponsorship when sponsorship banners/Ads/A-Boards are not allowed around the stadium except during match day and have to be removed immediately after the game. Walk around the stadium and you probably will see a banner of the assigned S.League club to the stadium and not more, anything else needs to go through approval of Sports Singapore which takes the longest time or almost impossible. Stadiums are run-down with painting probably from years ago. Some clubs might have the money to spend on re-painting the stadium but it is a nightmare unless you are willing to go through the request submission/waiting/approval from Sports Singapore, where is the support from Sport Singapore for S.League for FAS? Take a look at Harimau Muda home ground stadium (Hang Jebat Stadium, Malacca), is far better condition than our local stadium.

If an arrangement has been made for S.League clubs to use the stadiums as their home venue, why not allow the club to take responsible of the stadium and full usage including space usage, creative design around the stadium, advertising banner etc? I am sure Lasalle College of Arts’ students will love to help if given the opportunity. Why not allow the clubs to have a venue they called Home Ground? In simple, let the clubs have full usage of the stadium to generate revenues so as to be self-sustained as long as the running tracks continue to remains open for community usage without any changes. The clubs should maintain the stadium under its expenses and manpower, easing Sports Singapore to focus in other sports development in Singapore.

On the stadium playing field surface, most stadiums’ field surface, if not all, are in bad condition, prohibiting players from playing good football and causes injuries. Stadium lightings are dim which makes you want to fall asleep when watching a game. Unlike Sports hub or our old National Stadium, each time you walk-in, the feeling are really great. If the problem of field surface in Sports Hub can be resolve with planting grass surface at a different location and replacing those at Sports Hub as when needed, why not do the same for all these stadiums.

FAS, the initiator, of having Mr.Teo Hock Seng (Tampines FC Chairman) to invest in Tampines FC had proven to be a good choice for S.League progress (Thanks to FAS Advisor Mah Bow Tan). If so why not open for other corporate individuals in the same direction as of Tampines FC. If lucky, maybe Remiser King Mr.Peter Lim might just form a team with quality players to boost the League. Others such as Far East Organisation, City Development, Guocoland, Capital Land, Global Logistics Properties, Keppel Land, CapitaMall Asia, UOL Group, Singapore Land, NTUC, etc should be invited to invest and operate as they could be a good choice with their involvement in land development (building a SuperClub stadium) except NTUC which is the biggest club in Singapore in terms of membership. We need a corporate person with a big heart, great vision to bring S.League to the next level.

The best move from FAS recently for S.League was the introduction of both Starhub TV and SingtelTV to broadcast S.League LIVE matches. Thumbs Up! Although I continue to watch at the stadium as it is entirely a different experience. Probably, it is about time our National Newspaper “The Straits Times” should dedicate a page everyday on S.League news, events and updates in support of our local football.

Club revenues, the fund subsides from FAS are said to be S$800’000 per club per year but not the entire sum are paid in cash money to the club, as such, most clubs main revenues comes from the Slot machine operation, but such revenues has been declining since the opening of two Integrated Casino in Singapore, on top of it, the different betting tax rates paid by Casino and Club to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore is of two different rates. Although both clubs and Casino are operating similar machine at their venue, Casino tax rates are far better than our local club rates, thus, less profit to the club and less attractive in terms of winnings for the players playing at the club.

Following S.League for many years now, still couldn’t figure out each club region, have you ever wonder which S.League club you belong to where you are staying?

In brief, the S.League problem is not just about disbanding LionsXII and Courts Young Lions, is all about Money. S.League club need to generate revenues to be self-sustainable, independent.

If only Sport Singapore allow S.League club to run their venue stadium generating revenues for the club without disrupting community usage.
If only FAS implement Player Transfer Fees system, so club will not lose its players easily but could benefit from the player transfer fees.
If only FAS disbanding Court Young Lions and distribute the players back to the club.
If only FAS open up the idea for corporate individual to invest into the club instead of appointment.
If only Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore amend the taxation rates for local club to be the same as the Integrated Casino.
If only our National Newspaper support S.League with daily coverage.