New Geylang International chairman Ben Teng hopes to bring ‘continuity and stability’ by handing most of his players two-year contracts instead of the usual practice of 11-month ones.
There has been a flurry of changes for Geylang International on and off the pitch in the off-season, with Teng taking over from Leong Kok Fann as club chairman.
The 41-year-old businessman has emphasised building a youthful squad with an average age of 26, featuring the likes of former LionsXII representatives Gabriel Quak, Al-Qaasimy Rahman and Sahil Suhaimi.
Ex-Young Lions alumni Syazwan Buhari and Stanely Ng, as well as Brandon Koh and Dhukilan Jeevamani – both members of the thrilling Singapore under-15 side that clinched bronze at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games – increase the long-term potential of the side further.
Most of those aged 25 and below have been handed two-year contracts, while the rest are on one-year deals where there is the option to renew for another year.
Teng explained that this decision is necessary for the club to keep its best talents and ensure continuity within the ranks.
“My management committee and I came from the corporate world,” said Teng, who is also chairman of Red Star Global, a company that provides engineering support services in the Middle East.
“That’s why I’m surprised when we first came in, most of them (the players) were on 11-month contracts. That’s where we tried our best to find sponsors and build a business around the football club, so that we can afford to take them for two years.
“This is important for stability and continuity for the club. When we just took over, I tried talking to the existing players but unfortunately many of them had already signed for other clubs.
“In football, it’s important for a team to gel together so I believe we need to start thinking about the continuity (instead of changing players every year).”
Teng and his management committee have done well since taking over in early December, managing to secure a total of 12 sponsors for the upcoming season.
Their efforts include an estimated sponsorship value of $100,000 from main sponsor Epson Singapore.
However, Teng was keen to assert that it was not easy for everything to come together, adding: “We’ve been working relentlessly on the ground to look for sponsors and it is not as easy as ABC.
“Sometimes you need to have results (to convince sponsors) and there comes the chicken-and-egg issue. Thankfully Epson came on board and it will be a year-long effort, instead of just putting their logo on the shirt.
“There was a lot of thinking and pondering before taking over the club because it’s not easy to be financially stable.
“But our committee members like Aide (Iskandar) and Bambang (Sugeng) are passionate football people; we decided to come together and give 110 per cent to this club.”
Despite his optimism for the season ahead overall, the club patron is not setting unattainable targets in his first season in charge.
“The team will try their very best and we (the management committee) told them that we’ll be happy if we finish anything above fourth position,” he said.
“Of course every footballer wants to win championships and realistically we’ll try to mount a serious title challenge in the next two-to-three years.”