DPMM FC to sit out 2021 SPL season

Fadhil Yunus

DPMM FC will not be competing in the 2021 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season due to travel restrictions impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) confirmed on Tuesday.

The Brunei club informed the FAS on their withdrawal, which was similar to their omission last October when the league restarted without the then-champions.

“Both parties made significant efforts to explore mutually satisfactory arrangements for DPMM FC’s participation in the league, but it is unfortunate that these did not work out,” the FAS statement said.

“While the situation is unfortunate, the FAS appreciates that DPMM FC has done everything possible to resume its place in the SPL, but has to abide by Brunei’s national policies set out to contain the virus.

“DPMM FC remains an integral part of the SPL and we look forward to welcoming them back next season,” the FAS added.

DPMM FC players take part in a training session. PHOTO: FADHIL YUNUS

The SPL, which is entering its 26th season, will kick off on March 13 with eight teams.

Matches will be played behind closed doors. However, the FAS will review this in consultation with the authorities once the season progresses.

Only essential match-day personnel will be allowed in the venue and comprehensive protocols will remain in place for their safety.

Meanwhile, the quota for foreign imports has been revised with effect from the 2021 season in line with the requirements of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) club competitions.

Each SPL club, excluding Albirex Niigata (S) and Young Lions, is allowed to register a maximum of four foreign players with no age restrictions, of whom at least one should be of the nationality of an AFC member association.

The number of substitutions for each team will revert to three while the maximum number of substitutes players allowed in the bench will also revert to seven.

Fixture schedules have been released with reigning holders Albirex Niigata (S) opening their title defence with a clash against Hougang United, and Lion City Sailors taking on Tampines Rovers FC.

DPMM FC’s last match in the SPL was a 2-0 home victory against Tampines Rovers FC on March 6 last year, but the result was annulled following their withdrawal.