Strict protocols, new rules as Singapore Premier League returns
Singapore Premier League (SPL) clubs will be able to use up to five substitutions and utilise two water breaks during a match when the competition resumes on Saturday.
These amendments to the laws of the game were among the key announcements that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) made to the clubs in a virtual meeting yesterday.
In line with many leagues across the world, the nine-team SPL will temporarily increase the number of substitutions allowed from three to five for the rest of this season. However, the replacements can take place only in three windows, outside of the half-time break.
Mandatory water breaks will also be introduced in all matches to help players cope after almost seven months without competitive football.
There will be two breaks per match - in the 25th and 70th minute - with each break lasting a minute. Players will have to use their own bottles.
Geylang International coach Noor Ali was supportive of the rule changes, disagreeing with the notion that the substitution rule provides an advantage to the bigger teams.
"A very good move," Noor Ali told The New Paper. "With the players not having match fitness after being out of action for nearly seven months, these changes will help prevent injuries, especially in the opening rounds.
"But, I don't see any advantage for teams as we have the Under-23 ruling in the SPL, so most teams will have to rely on them anyway... We should see these changes positively."
Tampines Rovers coach Gavin Lee added: "Every club is looking at the rules from different lenses... From an injury point of view, it is definitely a good move."
The FAS has also implemented several safe management measures for the SPL, as advised by the Health Promotion Board, Ministry of Health (MOH) and Sport Singapore.
All matches will be played behind closed doors with fewer than 100 essential match-day personnel allowed.
These include players, officials, medical staff, match-day operations personnel and broadcast and media workers.
All players and match officials will also undergo swab tests fortnightly, with anyone testing positive to follow the relevant standard operating protocols established by MOH, including immediate self-isolation. (For more, see info box).
Gerard Christopher, FAS chief of general secretary's office, said: "As the first local professional league competition to be allowed to resume, the FAS recognises the responsibility it bears to ensure that the league is able to function as smoothly and safely as possible, with the inherent safety measures."
SAFETY PROTOCOLS (selected)
- Entry of essential personnel for matches will be staggered across a five-hour period, while departure will be controlled across an hour.
- Five match-day zones established at stadiums, where access will be controlled to prevent intermingling.
- Except for players and match officials who are in action during the game or warm-up sessions, all match-day personnel are to wear masks.
- All players, coaches and officials will have to check their temperature both two days and one day before match day, and anyone with a temperature of 38 deg C or higher will not be allowed entry on match day.
- Anyone who has travelled out of Singapore 14 days before a match, or who has been in contact with anyone who is Covid-19 positive or serving a stay-home notice will also be barred from the game.