New-look S.League to have increased emphasis on youth

There are plans to implement a quota on the number of under-23 players in the S.League, with each squad consisting of a minimum of six youngsters, and for three of these U-23 players to start each game, revealed FAS vice president S. Thavaneson on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 35th FAS congress, Thavaneson revealed that should these plans be finalised, they will apply to the 2018 season, planned to begin no earlier than the last week of March and run till the early November.

We realise it can't happen overnight but it will be a gradual process over the next three to five seasons

- Edwin Tong

"We have to get this rejuvenation of the S.League and the younger players coming into the system has to be fast tracked. There's no such thing as slow process (when it comes to this change)," said Thavaneson.

The exact details of these major changes are pending the "final position" of the league's regulators, FAS vice president Edwin Tong told members of the congress later in the evening, but he did not go into the specific details of the quota.

"The focus will be very on youth, community and on coach development," said Tong, "What we mean by that would be to have teams to have a significant under 23 profile. We realise it can't happen overnight but it will be a gradual process over the next three to five seasons."

There has also yet to be a confirmation on the number of foreign players which each team can recruit next season.

But according to recent media reports, the foreign player quota could also be reduced from three to two, with more focus on signing younger foreigners.

There could be a reduction to the number of foreign players in the S.League. Photo: FAS

"It's not so much about the foreign players," Thavaneson told reporters. "The impetus must be to develop our local players. Obviously if we reduce the number of foreign players, our clubs that qualify for AFC competitions will be at a disadvantage."

"But if we have to make a decision between AFC competitions and overall development of Singapore football, then the answer is obvious," he added. 

The existing nine clubs in the S.League are slated to compete again in 2018, including the Garena Young Lions, a team which has won just once this season.

"If we take three foreigners and every foreigner is a striker, our young boys will never get a chance."

The existing nine clubs in the S.League are slated to compete again in 2018, including the Garena Young Lions, a team which has won just once this season.

Thavaneson said that the inclusion of the Young Lions in the league was with view to the major competitions ahead in the next three years such as the 2019 Sea Games. 

The team's status in the league however, could be reconsidered after the 2020 Olympics.

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