Changes afoot for new S'pore Premier League season, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Changes afoot for new S'pore Premier League season

The Singapore Premier League (SPL) is set to bump up the number of foreign players next season in a bid to raise the standard of the domestic top flight.

The Straits Times understands that a key change for 2024-25 will see the foreign player quota increased from its current maximum of four (including one from an Asian Football Confederation member association) to six (including one from an AFC member association and one Under-21 player) per match.

The latest change means that the new season will see the highest number of foreign players permitted for each club in the history of the league.

The foreign player quota has seen multiple tweaks since the first year of the S-League in 1996, when teams were able to field up to five foreign players each. In 2018, when it was rebranded as the SPL, clubs were allowed to register only two foreign players.

Sources have also informed ST that apart from the quota of six foreign players who can be registered for each match day, discussions are also ongoing to allow clubs to sign up to nine foreigners (five of any nationality, one from Asia and three U-21s).

This will mean greater flexibility for clubs, especially for those who have qualified for continental tournaments as there will be no foreign player quota in AFC competitions from the 2024-25 season.

Previously, clubs could register a maximum of four foreign players in the SPL at one time and were not allowed to change it from match day to match day.

SPL defending champions Albirex Niigata – which will become a local club and bound by the rules on foreign players from 2024 – have already announced the rule change on their social media and have moved early by revealing six Japanese players for the new campaign.

They have handed out a contract renewal to defender Koki Kawachi, 23, and recaptured Shuhei Hoshino, 28, from fellow SPL side Balestier Khalsa, signed 20-year-old midfielder Arya Igami Tarhani, defender Stevia Egbus Mikuni, 25, former Japan international Yojiro Takahagi, 37, and midfielder Yohei Otake, 34, who comes with J-League experience.

It is also understood that the league is set to drop the contentious Under-23 quota.

The rule was introduced in 2018 making it mandatory for clubs to field three U-23 players for at least the first-half of a match before the number was later cut to one for the 2022 season.

While the intention was to develop more young players, the move received mixed reactions.

Although budding players enjoyed more exposure, most felt it was not always on merit and came at the expense of deserved playing time for older players.

The Football Association of Singapore has yet to officially announce the changes.

Singapore FootballSingapore Premier LeagueAFC/ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATIONTampines