The Singapore Premier League (SPL) season 2021 is set to kick off on 13 March with defending champion Albirex Niigata S to begin their title defence against Hougang United, with Brunei DPMM FC opting not to participate.
Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions by the Bruneian government, the 2019 champion has informed the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) of their decision not to participate this season.
Both parties have made significant efforts to explore mutually satisfactory arrangements for DPMM’s participation in SPL with unfortunate results.
FAS appreciates DPMM’s resolutions to resume playing, and shall remain an integral part of the SPL for seasons to come.
For the 2021 season, eight teams will compete with each playing thrice.
Aside from Albirex and Hougang, the opening day will also feature a blockbuster clash between Singapore’s stalwarts Lion City Sailors and Tampines Rovers, followed by the remaining fixtures on the next day.
Over 90 matches are scheduled to be played over the domestic season from 13 March to October 2021.
This includes the 2021 Singapore Cup, which is slated to commence in September.
Furthermore, this season’s Community Shield, which traditionally acts as a standalone, annual curtain-raiser to the domestic season has been rescheduled to 19 June.
The Shield will be contested between Albirex and last season’s runner-up, Tampines Rovers.
In light of the current COVID-19 situation as with the majority of the 2020 season, matches are set to be played behind closed doors.
FAS will consult with the relevant authorities as the season progresses, and for the fans, they can still catch the action on live streaming via the SPL Facebook and YouTube pages.
Comprehensive match protocols will remain in force with only essential match-day personnel are allowed to be present at match venues.
These include mandatory swab tests for all players and match officials every two weeks, temperature monitoring and declaration, and the presence of only essential match-day personnel at venues on match days.
Personnel will be required to mask up for the entire duration of time they are at the venue, with the exclusion of players and match referees during the match and warm-up activities.
This season will continue to implement two mandatory water breaks per match in the 25th and 70th minutes.
The number of substitutions allowed for each team in a match will revert to three, while the maximum number of substitute players allowed on the bench will also revert to seven.
On another development, Lion City Sailors and Balestier Khalsa will relocate to Jalan Besar Stadium and Toa Payoh Stadium, respectively for this season.
This is due to the re-turfing progress at their current ground, Bishan Stadium.
The Sailors will share Jalan Besar Stadium with the Young Lions, with the ground at the FAS headquarters having completed a re-turfing process as well. Hougang United will remain based at Hougang Stadium.
THE BRUNEIAN | KUALA LUMPUR