And the new-look S-League is already starting to come out of its cocoon.
Chairmen of the S-League clubs convened for a two-hour meeting at Football Association of Singapore’s (FAS) Jalan Besar headquarters on Monday evening.
And S-League chief executive officer (CEO) Lim Chin confirmed that there will be concrete changes to the mandatory fitness test in 2013.
It was reported that the mandatory Beep Test will be replaced by the 2.4km run in 2013 as the fitness test that will grant the players their passport to domestic football competitions.
There will be three different passing grades for the various player-categories in S-League club.
Players in the S-League squad are required to go below 10 minutes 15 seconds to pass, while goalkeepers in the S-League are required to go below 12 minutes to earn eligibility.
Prime League (under-23) players will need to hit 10 minutes 45 seconds
Lim revealed that there will be monetary incentives for footballers who excel in the new fitness test.
“In order to push the players to their limit, we will be rewarding those who excel in the new fitness test. There will be monetary reward, but at this moment, we are unable to reveal what the amount is,” Lim told aXrosstheline.com.
“We want the players to go all out in the fitness test so that we can have a better gauge of their fitness levels and the monetary reward acts as a motivational factor to prevent the players from just going through the motions and simply meeting the passing mark. We’d like to help them attain their maximum potential,” he added.
There is widespread belief that this change will see fans the return of many quality players who have missed out on the Republic’s professional league once the new test kicks in. Lim expressed similar thoughts as well.
“The 2.4km run is something which is familiar to all, and it is easier and more convenient for the players train on their own. All they need to do is to get a stop-watch, head to any stadium and put themselves under the test for six laps,” Lim said.
“I certainly hope to see more quality players playing in the S-League” he added.
While the league’s primary objective of ensuring that the players plying their trade in domestic football competitions maintain a high fitness level, Lim shared that the respective clubs will be responsible for ensuring that this aspect of the game happens, with the league leaving this task to the respective clubs.
13 teams have been confirmed for the upcoming upcoming S-League season, and the fixtures for the upcoming season have been “more or less confirmed” according to Lim with the league is set to be carried out over two and a half rounds in 2013.
After the completion of the regular two-round season, the top seven teams will play in a mini league of their own to determine who takes top honors while six bottom teams will also fight it out for bragging rights and final league positions.
The above scenario will allow each club to be involved in at least 28 games in the league season, less the cup competitions which they will also be involved in.
Lim said that at the moment, Harimau Muda A or the Young Tigers, a team reportedly
keen on joining a league in either Brazil or Europe is still part of the S-League for the 2013 season.
The marquee player proposal was also discussed, with mixed reviews across the board during the meeting. aXrosstheline.com understands that there will be a salary cap on this group of players while the league will help clubs who are keen on the marquee players with subsidies that will be available for clubs, based on key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be spelt out by the S-League.
Depending on the approval of the marquee players’ proposal, S-League fans could see up to five foreign players at each club, and the likelihood of local players losing their place in top teams like Home United, SAFFC and Tampines Rovers will increase if the league gets the green light for the proposal.
For instance, Home currently have the services of Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li alongside their four foreign imports, six places in the first team that have gone to non local born Singaporeans.
With the inclusion of the marquee player, Home of 2013 could see only four spots in the starting lineup filled by local born players.
But this issue doesn’t seem to trouble the S-League CEO.
“Many clubs are comfortable with the quota, and this is not a problem because it has been like this for years,” said Lim, pointing to the likes of SAFFC, Home and Tampines who have signed several naturalised citizens.
Lim said the announcement of changes to the 2013 S-League will be made in two weeks.