15 September 2011

DPMM apply to rejoin S-League !

SINGAPORE - They took local football by storm in 2009, becoming the first foreign team to win a trophy in Singapore when they bagged the League Cup.

Brunei's DPMM FC were in the running for the S-League title as well that year, but were prevented from achieving a historic double after FIFA banned the national association of the sultanate, which forced Singapore to kick the club out before they could complete their final five games of the season.

Now, after a year in the football wilderness, DPMM are looking to make a return to Singapore.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source from Brunei told Today: "DPMM have already submitted their application to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and are awaiting a response from them."

The possible comeback of DPMM increases the possibility radical changes could be in store for the S-League, starting next season.

Currently, the Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League season features 12 teams playing three rounds.

One possible change could see 14 teams battling on a home and away basis.

When contacted yesterday, FAS deputy director of marketing and competitions, Ridzal Saat said: "There has been a lot of talk about the league expanding and also new teams joining the S-League. We will take into consideration every aspect on how can we can improve the league as a whole.

"One such area is our S-League online survey ... as we seek to gather feedback from fans in preparation for the 2012 season. If there are changes, we will update the public swiftly."

FIFA banned Brunei from all football activities in 2009, deeming there was government interference in the workings of the Brunei Football Association.

The body was reorganised and named the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam and the country was reinstated by FIFA on May 30 this year.

A possible return by DPMM has created a stir in local football circles.

The SAFFC were the main beneficiaries of DPMM's unceremonious exit in 2009 when they claimed the S-League title and Warriors' coach Richard Bok said: "They were challenging for the title when they were forced to pull out, and they were a good side that made the league more exciting."

Gombak United chairman John Yap said: "They gave clubs a chance to experience a real away game with the hostile crowd in Brunei, and they were a credit to themselves and ... gave an added dimension to the league."

Besides DPMM, Sembawang United, a team backed by an anonymous businessman, have also applied to join the S-League next season.

With the Malaysian under-23 joining in the fray as well, both Bok and Yap back the idea of a 14-team, two-round format for the S-League.

"It would be a positive thing if we can play two rounds with 14 or even up to 16 teams. It could see an increase in fan interest, and clubs can schedule our training programmes better," said Bok.

Said Yap: "It is not an ideal situation to have 12 teams in a three-round format; a straightforward home and away system will add to the sophistication of the league.

"It could also be important, especially considering Singapore's return to the Malaysian League next year. This may give fans something interesting to watch, and may bring them back to local stadiums."


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