Singapore league to fine clubs for finishing bottom of the table
AS IF a rock-bottom finish in Singapore's S.League was not bad enough, the city-state's soccer bosses are now planning to punish the weakest team further with fines.
Under a new "carrot-and-stick" approach, while the reward for winning the Singaporean title was being boosted, five-figure penalties were to be introduced for make-weights.
The team that finishes last in the 13-team league next season will face a 50,000 Singapore dollar (€31,000) penalty, while the 12th-placed side will be S$30,000 worse off.
"We hope these - stiff penalties, not just a slap on the wrist - will inspire clubs to do well," S.League boss Lim Chin told the paper.
"'Competitive' and 'interesting' were the two key words for us in deciding on the initiatives for the league next year and, while the S.League is not ready for a promotion-relegation system, we want every team to give their best," he added, explaining the unusual tough-love approach.
Fans' reaction in Singapore has ranged from incredulity to outrage, with a number saying the fines would be counter-productive and tantamount to kicking a man while he is down.
But Lim said the change would be "better for the league than just sticking to what we've had before.
"We think the quantum of the penalties is painful enough to force teams to make an effort to do well, while not big enough to force clubs to sit out the league," he added.
"Having said that, we will allow clubs to make phased payments out of their subsidies in the following year."