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Football: SPL season to resume behind closed doors on Jul 17, Singapore Cup cancelled

Football: SPL season to resume behind closed doors on Jul 17, Singapore Cup cancelled

A match between Geylang International and Tampines Rovers. (File photo: Facebook/AIA Singapore Premier League)

SINGAPORE: The 2021 season of the Singapore Premier League (SPL) will resume on Jul 17, while this year’s Singapore Cup has been cancelled, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said on Monday (Jun 21).

Matches will continue to be played behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 situation in Singapore.

The SPL, which had been on a break since May 23 due to a FIFA window for international fixtures, had been scheduled to resume on Jul 2.

However, this was pushed back "to allow clubs to have at least two weeks of preparation time with their respective players who were called up for international duty with the men’s national team”, FAS said in a media release.

“These players were required to serve a stay-home notice upon their return to Singapore, which ends on Jul 4,” FAS said.

“This latest schedule will also allow for the league table to be balanced at the earliest possible opportunity, with all teams having played the same number of matches.

“This will be achieved after the final match of game week 12, which will see all teams having played a total of 12 matches each.”

The schedule was also modified with an eye on minimising disruption from Tampines Rovers’ participation in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League group stage, which takes place from Jun 25 to Jul 10 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The updated schedule “was made in agreement with all teams”, FAS said.

Further changes to fixtures may be required as SPL teams Geylang International and the Lion City Sailors are scheduled to participate in the AFC Cup, FAS added.

READ: Football: Johor’s U-21 team looking to play in Singapore Premier League, says Johor crown prince

READ: Lion City Sailors appoint AFC Champions League winner Kim Do-hoon as new head coach

SINGAPORE CUP CANCELLED

With the SPL season now ending on Oct 2 instead of Sep 11, the 2021 Singapore Cup has been scrapped to avoid a clash with preparations for other scheduled competitions.

“Given the later completion date of the league, the Singapore Cup 2021 will be cancelled to ensure the Singapore under-22s and the Lions can adequately prepare for their respective competitions, including the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers, 2021 Southeast Asian Games and ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup,” FAS said.

SPL matches have been played behind closed doors since May 8, and this will continue to be the case as the league resumes. FAS said that it is monitoring prevailing COVID-19 measures “and will decide the conditions for re-entry of SPL fans into match venues closer to the league’s resumption date”.

Defending champions Albirex Niigata topped the SPL table on 27 points prior to the international break, with the Lion City Sailors a point behind in second place.

Singapore played joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers against Palestine, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia during the break, losing all three games as they dropped out of contention for Qatar 2022.

The Lions remain in the running for a place at the 2023 Asian Cup in China.

Source: CNA/kg(hs)

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