A while longer before SPL can resume

A while longer before SPL can resume

Players in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) will have to wait a little longer before the league is given the green light by authorities to resume.

Over 200 players and match officials were swab tested for the Covid-19 virus last Sunday with a view to a restart of Singapore’s only professional sports league since its March 24 suspension, subject to all test results coming back negative.

However, The Straits Times understands that out of those tested, 16 were retested yesterday.

It is unclear why they were required to do so, but it is understood the other tests results that came through yesterday were negative for Covid-19.

With those who undergo swab tests typically receiving results within three days, this means a Saturday restart – which was targeted but appeared unlikely – is now off the table.

In any case, coaches in the SPL had expressed concern that the date would have come too soon for them to properly prepare their teams for a first competitive match in almost seven months.

Teams had resumed full training only on Sept 1.

Footballers from all eight local-based sides – Balestier Khalsa, Geylang International, Hougang United, Lion City Sailors, Tampines Rovers, Tanjong Pagar United, Young Lions, and Japanese outfit Albirex Niigata – had been tested at the former Siglap Secondary School in Pasir Ris, as were SPL match officials.

Coaches and team officials at each of these clubs were not tested as they are expected to remain masked up during games.

The ninth team in the SPL are defending champions Brunei DPMM, who are based in Bandar Seri Begawan and whose participation for the remainder of the season is in serious doubt as the team have yet to resume full training.

Covid-19 tests are expected to be conducted every fortnight and games will be played without fans when the SPL resumes.

Precautions in place will be similar to when the league moved to closed-door matches shortly before its suspension.

There will also likely be changes to the format of domestic league and cup competitions, with a view to reducing the total number of games played. Originally, teams in the league were scheduled to play one another thrice.