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FAS disbands LionsXII, players seek new clubs

SINGAPORE — Barely a week after losing their place in Malaysian football, the LionsXII have now lost their very existence.

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad speaking to players. TODAY FILE PHOTO

LionsXII coach Fandi Ahmad speaking to players. TODAY FILE PHOTO

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SINGAPORE — Barely a week after losing their place in Malaysian football, the LionsXII have now lost their very existence.

The Singapore side, who have been playing in the Malaysia Super League and Malaysian Cup competitions since 2012, were disbanded by the Football Association of Singa­pore (FAS) with immediate effect. 

The decision was conveyed to the players at a meeting at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio this ­afternoon (Dec 4). 

According to those present at the meeting, one reason why the FAS ­decided not to field the LionsXII in the S.League is because it was not feasible to have two of its clubs in the domestic competition.

Said a source: “The FAS said that because the Young Lions are already in the S.League, it is not able to field the LionsXII as well. This is a FIFA rule — an organisation cannot have two clubs in the same league. 

“Also, the aim of the FAS is the development of young players. The Young Lions are a developmental squad (their players are aged ­under 23), whereas the LionsXII are ­already seniors.”

The decision means that the ­LionsXII players — who are paid between S$4,000 and S$15,000 — will now be looking to join S.League clubs instead, though TODAY ­understands that the FAS will recall most of them for the ASEAN Super League in 2017.

However, many of them have not been able to conclude deals with the clubs yet because of the public ­assurance by the FAS that they will all ­secure a playing contract at the same salary for the 2016 season.

“The clubs say that they have not been told by the FAS how much top-up it will be providing to them so that they can match our salaries,” said a player who declined to be named. “We hope that this matter can be settled soon as we also want to settle down with our new clubs.” 

The FAS met with S.League club officials this evening to discuss how the players will be assigned to the clubs. It is believed they are ­exploring three ways: Open ­market, draft system, or a hybrid of both.

TODAY understands that five-time S.League champions Tampines Rovers are already in discussions with several LionsXII players.

The Stags, who narrowly ceded the S.League title to Brunei DPMM on the last day of the season last week, are planning to swoop in on goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud, defenders Madhu Mohana and Hafiz Abu Sujad, and winger Christopher van Huizen.

“We have reached an agreement with Izwan,” said a club official who declined to be named. “If he secures a place with Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga following his trials with them, we will let him go. If he doesn’t, then he will join us.”

LionsXII winger Gabriel Quak told TODAY that he is in discussions with a couple of clubs.

“I am glad to have received offers from a few clubs,” said the 25-year-old. “But my worry is for those teammates of mine who may not be able to find clubs to join. It was a pleasure playing with them these past few years, and I hope they will get their futures sorted out, either on their own, or with help from the FAS.”

Meanwhile, some key players, such as Safuwan Baharudin and Khairul Amri, are considering ­offers from Malaysian state teams. 

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