FAS open door to potential LionsXII S.League inclusion

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) last night confirmed that they had met with LionsXII players and backroom staff to guarantee their contracts going into the 2016 season.

Singapore's representative side was informed on Tuesday evening that the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) had voted not to renew their stay in Malaysian competitions effective next year.

While many seemed blindsided by the sudden news, FAS look to be well on their way to planning for life outside the Malaysian Super League once again.

FAS president Zainudin Nordin and General Secretary Winston Lee were among officials who met with the team on Thursday evening, assuring them that they would all be guaranteed new contracts at the same salary in 2016.

The association also indicated that they were in talks with sponsors with regards to the LionsXII players appearing in the S.League next season.

Whether or not this means LionsXII will be replacing the outgoing Harimau Muda S.League team or if the players will be farmed out to various clubs under central contracts remains to be seen, but many of the players and staff seemed comforted by the news.

"The certainty that every player in LionsXII is assured of a playing contract for next year means a lot to us, and the guarantee that we will receive the same salary is definitely a big bonus," midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin said.

Head coach Fandi Ahmad was also full of praise for the FAS' quick action, as the team prepare for a do-or-die Malaysia Cup quarter-final second leg against Malaysian heavyweights Pahang this weekend.

"My officials and players appreciate the professionalism and sincerity of the management," he said. "Their prompt action in assuring us all have given us full confidence to do well on Saturday.

"Unlike what some have said, the LionsXII has been a positive project for our players – many of whom lack regional and international exposure.

"We all knew that the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) was valid for four years, and there would come a time when we had to move on.

"Now is the time and while we were disappointed by the approach FAM took in announcing this decision, it has been a good journey and we will now continue to develop further."