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Foreign players uncertain of future as S.League season ends

With uncertainty surrounding the future of the S.League, some of the league’s foreign footballers tell FFT they are in the dark over what lies ahead...

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According to recent news reports, the budget for next year's S.League could likely be slashed to as little as half of the annual sum of S$16 million that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) usually receives for the league.

Apart from reduced funding, reports have also suggested a reduction of foreign players in each club.

Of course, we players have heard about it and I am concerned

- Ryutaro Megumi

Currently, local teams (apart of the Young Lions, a development team), are able to register up to a total of three foreign players in the main squad, and an additional player under the age of 21 for the Prime League.

Since the start of this season, a total of 31 foreigners were registered by the clubs in the S.League - this number includes those who ply their trade in the Prime League.

“Of course, we players have heard about it and I am concerned,” said Tampines Rovers’ Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi, who netted seven times in the league for the Stags in his first season.

“I don’t know why they are thinking about making this change but it doesn’t make sense to my teammates and I."

Megumi has done well for Tampines this season

“For us and Home United, we compete in the Asian Football Confederation (cup) competition and having three foreigners is better so if you cut it, we lose out even more to clubs from other countries.

“I have not spoken to the club and so I have not decided on any plans but my agent is looking out for me.”

I have also not decided on my next move but I have enjoyed my time with the Warriors and I want to remain in the S.League

- Kento Fukuda

Warriors FC's Kento Fukuda, who has been in the S.League for five years, agreed with his countryman. But for Fukuda, the situation is a little different as he has already been sounded out by a few clubs for his services next season.

He said: “It is already difficult for local clubs against the foreign teams (even though) we have three foreigners per team.”

“I have also not decided on my next move but I have enjoyed my time with the Warriors and I want to remain in the S.League.”

His teammate Andrei Ciolacu also emphasised his desire to stay in Singapore.

Fukuda hopes to stay in Singapore

“To me, if the club wants to keep me, they will keep me. I gave my best this season so the rest is up to them," said the Romanian striker.  "Singapore has been one of the best places for me.

“I will have to make a decision but yes, I understand that the club has to wait on the possible changes before they speak to me about next season.”

Here the foreigners are uncertain because they don’t what these new rules will be

- Stipe Plazibat

FAS has reduced the foreign player quota in the past, having cut the number of players each club could register from five to three ahead of the 2016 season.

No matter what lies ahead, current S.League top-scorer Stipe Plazibat said that the communication of next season's next rules will have to be made clear to players - and soon.

“ All the players have heard about the strong rumour regarding the cut in foreigners," said the Croatian hot-shot, who is rumoured to be leaving Home United for Thai side Bangkok Glass.

“The S.League is going to end and they (the players) still don’t know the rules for next season. They (FAS) should think about the players’ feelings because we need to think about our futures as well.

“Other leagues in other countries have already started signing foreigners and here the foreigners are uncertain because they don’t what these new rules will be.

“So I think it is my time for me to leave the S.League and it is a good time.”

Photos: S.League