Singapore Premier League could introduce third foreigner in 2019

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Singapore Premier League clubs could sign three imports from next season after the increase in foreign player quota was raised at the Football Association of Singapore’s 36th Annual Congress on Saturday.

Although yet to be ratified, the FAS is exploring the possibility of increasing the number of foreigners each SPL team can sign from the current limit of two.

However, there will be an age restriction placed on the prospective third foreign players.

The FAS has never been afraid to tinker with the number of imports a club can bring it as it tries to find the magic number, with as many as five allowed as recently as 2012 – although that number has been reduced over the years in a bid to give young local talent an opportunity to develop.

Interestingly enough, it also appears that the FAS will offer to play a more active role in helping clubs source for talent, stating in a press release that: “Understanding the constraints faced by local clubs, the FAS will be able to offer assistance in linking clubs up with possible sources and connections.”

FOX Sports Asia contacted club officials from two clubs – who declined to be named – for their thoughts on this development, although both were unable to comment until the change in foreign player quota is confirmed.

The additional foreign player slot for next season is just one of four upcoming projects that were identified at the Congress, which also included the completion of the Kallang Football Hub – which will be used as a National Training Centre – by the third quarter of 2019.

How does the SPL’s foreign player quota compare to the rest of Southeast Asia?

Thai League 1 (3+1+1): Five foreigners can be registered but one must be from an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member association and another must be from an ASEAN member country. The same rules also apply for the second-tier Thai League 2.

Malaysia Super League (3+1+1): Exactly the same as in Thailand, MSL clubs can sign three foreigners with no restriction, along with one AFC player and a further ASEAN import. However, Southeast Asian foreign signings have to be in possession of over 30 caps for their respective countries or they will need be subject to the competition’s approval.

Indonesia Liga 1 (3+1): One of the most straightforward foreign player quotas, which is in line with the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup – three foreign players of any kind and one from a member association for a total of four.

Myanmar National League (3+1): Similarly, the Myanmar National League also adopts the same practice as the AFC.

Philippines Football League (3+1): The fledgling PFL, which had its first season this year, has also been happy to follow Asian football’s governing body in allowing its clubs to sign three players of any nationality and a fourth coming from an AFC member nation.

V.League 1 (2+1): Vietnam’s top tier only allows two foreign signings, although there is an additional slot for naturalised players of which there are plenty. Clubs competing in AFC competition are free to bring in another two imports but they will not be eligible for domestic competition.