Opinion split over foreign teams in Singapore

SINGAPORE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Football teams from Europe, Africa and Asia have already expressed an interest in joining Singapore's S-League next season, but the presence of overseas teams in the city state's domestic competition is polarising opinion.

Earlier this week Singapore's football chiefs pulled out of next year's Asian Champions League rather than be forced to boot foreign teams out of their S-League.

Foreign teams' admittance to the league contravenes Asian Football Confederation criteria for entry to the region's top club competition.

In the wake of the withdrawal, former Singapore international Malek Awab says the future of the S-League must lie with local teams instead.

"We need a bigger pool of local players for our national team, so foreign sides are not going to help Singapore football," he told the Straits Times daily newspaper.

"I'm very sad with the current state of football here now."

Former Woodlands Wellington and Tampines Rovers official R.Vengadasalam weighed into the argument, saying most foreign teams have only caused problems for Singapore football.

"Take the Chinese sides - they have been nothing but trouble," said Venga, who cited Sinchi (poor discipline) and Liaoning Guangyuan FC (match-fixing scandal) as examples.

National coach Radojko Avramovic was more circumspect.

"Some have been good value for money, while others have contributed to local football in other ways," he told the newspaper.

French side Etoile FC currently lead the 12-team league by a point. Japan's Albirex Niigata lie ninth, one place above China's Beijing Guoan Talent FC.

Singapore Football Association spokesman Issac Christian said: "Over the years, we have strengthened the entry criteria as we look to get better teams into the S-League for our fans."