Etoile's S.League exit is confirmed

As reported by on Friday, Etoile FC have confirmed that they will play no part in Singapore's 2012 Great Eastern-YEO's S.League season.

The new-look Etoile FC

Following weeks of negotiations between the French side and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), the 2010 S.League winners have finally decided not to compete in the new season which is scheduled to start on February 9.

Etoile's abrupt exit comes in the wake of rumours that they were unhappy over the recent appointment of their former chairman Johan Gouttefangeas as the deputy chief executive officer of the S.League.

Allegations of unpaid bonuses, late payments of salaries, and an unfulfilled promise of a clubhouse dogged the 34-year-old Frenchman's reign at Etoile which came to a sensational end in June last year.

"As much as we were ready to restart the season for the pleasure of our fans and players two weeks ago, we have decided to sit out of the 2012 S. League season due to the debts and liabilities carried forward from previous management coupled with the new developments in local football," Mr Hicham Moudden, Etoile's current chairman declared in a statement released by the FAS on Monday.

"Etoile FC and S. League management held several meetings looking at many possibilities but were unsuccessful in finding a solution for Etoile FC to continue to participate in the new season.

"We remain committed to our objective of contributing positively to the development of football in Singapore, and one key area is on grassroots football and youth development through the Centre of Excellence programmes. My management and I will spend the next few months re-prioritising our resources and objectives and we hope to return to the S.League at an opportune time."

Etoile's absence will see the S.League operate its 2012 campaign with 13 teams. Malaysia's talented Harimau Muda side will make its debut, while Brunei outfit DPMM FC return to the fold after a two-year absence.

Despite the Etoile saga, new S.League Chief Executive Officer Mr Lim Chin believes Singapore's football fans can look forward to an exciting few months of domestic action.

"The likes of Tampines Rovers, Home United, SAFFC and Albirex Niigata were in the title race into the final stretch of the season last year and we believe they will once again set the league ablaze in 2012. At the same time, the participation of two quality teams in Harimau Muda and DPMM will further raise the quality of play on the pitch," he said.

"I am confident that the introduction of the Marquee Player initiative and Young Foreign Player subsidy will also help the clubs attract quality foreign players who will enhance the appeal of the league. At the same time, we have also undertaken various marketing initiatives including a Football App, online games and an S.League TV portal which will extend our outreach to the fans and community," Mr Lim added.

The Charity Shield between last year's Great Eastern Yeo's S League champions, Tampines Rovers RHB Singapore Cup champions Home United FC is scheduled to be played on February 5 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

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