Football: Singapore Premier League to restart on Oct 17, swab tests for 223 players and officials all negative

Football: Singapore Premier League to restart on Oct 17, swab tests for 223 players and officials all negative

SINGAPORE – After 211 days, the wait is over as the Singapore Premier League (SPL) will resume on Oct 17, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong announced on Friday (Oct 9).

He also indicated the football competition, which has been suspended of more than six months due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held behind closed doors.

He wrote on his Facebook page: “It’s been a long off-season but the players (even the coaches and match officials too!) are raring to hear the whistle blow once more.

“Glad to hear that the Covid-19 swab test results came back negative for all 223 players and match officials. Coaches and team officials will be masked up during games, alongside other safe management measures. Only the 22 players and 4 match referees on the field can be unmasked.

“We won’t be able to watch the matches live at the stadium just yet. But you and your loved ones can still catch them on live-streams and selected cable broadcast channels.”

He added the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will reveal the rejigged fixtures shortly.

Since Tanjong Pagar held Albirex Niigata to a 2-2 draw on March 20, the SPL has been halted along with other local sports events due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The eight local-based clubs returned to training on June 20, albeit in groups of five and with no contact allowed, before full-team practice began on Aug 30.

On Oct 4, the SPL players and match officials underwent swab testing.

The resumption date was welcomed by the football community. Geylang International coach Noor Ali said: “This is something we have been waiting for and looking forward to for months, so it is definitely good news.

“We have one week to prepare and we are raring to go. In the next few days, we hope to get more clarity about the fixtures and any rule changes such as the number of substitutions allowed, so we can prepare accordingly.”

It is understood that the FAS will be meeting club officials virtually on Monday to share more details about the restart.

As the Republic sees the number of coronavirus cases decline in recent weeks, there have been signs that live elite sports here being given the green light to resume.

Mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion One Championship will stage closed-door fights at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Friday. Its last live show here was on Feb 28, also without any fans in attendance.