Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin unveiled plans for S.League 2.0, the improved version of the league for the 2012 season that's slated to kick-off February 9, at a press conference on Friday afternoon at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Amidst the fanfare of the official announcement of the league's new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Deputy CEO in Lim Chin and Johan Gouttefangeas respectively, the former Mayor talked about the changes that were afoot for the new season.
"The running of the league will be structured around a few key people, many of differing backgrounds" said Zainudin referring to his newest appointees.
"It will be run like a commercial company. This is a business unit and as such should be run like a business intiatiave.
"The S.League Strategic Business Unit (SBU) as a business unit has to change, it has to grow."
Zainuddin also promised that his new CEO and Deputy CEO will have 'authority and autonomy in running the company'.
Among the plans for the new season that were highlighted were
- The addition of two new teams, Harimau Muda, the South-East Asian Games gold medal winning Malaysian U-23 side, and DPMM FC from Brunei, to bring the total to 14 teams
- Two rounds of matches as opposed to the previous three rounds
- Fixed matchdays, with matches now being held over three days for each round between Thursdays and Sundays. Matches will also avoid clashes with Lions XII home games in the Malaysia Super League
- Subsidy for up to two talented foreign youth players under the age of 21. Players will however have to be approved by FAS.
- Launch of S.League Iphone App
- Launch of S.LeagueTV on the internet
- Clubs will be allowed to sign Marquee players based on their own budget limitations. Marquee players will have no salary caps, age limits and can forego the mandatory Beep Test.
The allowance for a marquee player will be of particular interest to fans with many having called for higher reputation players to be signed. But a salary cap across all clubs, has hindered such signings by wealthier clubs.
Gombak United's Chairman John Yap is already rumoured to be trying to secure the signature of former Newcastle United and French international, Laurent Robert, for the new season, something that even Zainudin touched on during the launch.
The fixed match schedules and reduced rounds will also be of welcome and was assured by Zainudin to be rigid and only likely to change 'when it snows in Singapore'.
The FAS president also promised that this was the start of the full initiative and renewal process for the league.
"I will leave Lim Chin and his team to develop the strategic plans," said Zainudin.
"We are confident that Lim Chin, Johan and their management team, which will include a Chief of Marketing, Chief of Corporate Communications and a Chief of Competitions, will build on the success of the S.League and bring the league to the next level."