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'NO PAIN, NO GAIN' For Longer Deal ...

It is that time of the year again when S.League clubs begin the tidying of their roster to deliberate who should stay and who they should be leaving upon fulfilling their contractual obligations.

Unlike the early seasons of the league when newspapers were able to compile a list of "retain/release" and printed out of the sports pages once the season was over, this coveted name list is something held in utmost confidentiality these days.

Some details tend to be overlooked ...
Some details tend to be overlooked ...

As what we knew all along, a sizable number of players were on that infamous "eleven-month contract" which has always been the grouse among those whose livelihood depends on the game to feed their families.


Generally, a normal playing contract under the "eleven-month" term will start on the 1st of January of the calendar year and expires on the last day of November.

In another word, December is the month when there will be NO income for those whose contracts finished on the last day of the previous month when it's the precisely the period many employees are looking forward to AWS (Annual Wage Supplement) and bonus payout by their employers in other industries.

Former player Duncan Elias, who now works in the broadcasting industry, epitomized that gutted sentiment in an interview with an online publication years ago after the decision to call it a day.

"In fact, some clubs give only 11-month contracts. They don’t want to pay you in December because you are not doing anything for the club in that month! How can you give your all to the club, knowing there’s no guarantee you’ll be at the club next season?” said Elias in that viral article back in March 2014.

The lack of job security and low wages as mentioned in that article highlighted the sorry state of this country's sole professional sports league which the league authority is trying to improve its image of it with little success.

It did? Hmm ...

Even the futile effort to rejuvenate the competition with external help via Lions XII's participation in the Malaysia Super League did not help but made things even worse by causing friction among the already small fraternity.

Adding salt to the wounds, there isn't much progress to establish a players' union to help to represent these professional players in times of need in spite of efforts to have one whenever issues surfaced.

Nonetheless, clubs often justified their case by offering an "eleven-month contract" on "pragmatic" grounds.

"December is a month we are facing difficulties like getting fields to train and arrange games," explained a club official who spoke under the condition of anonymity. "But, it should also be players, themselves, to get ready for the upcoming season by having their own training regime (before season starts)."


"Bear it in mind, when people say footballers' careers are short in lifespan, the message-driven across to them shall be 'They (footballers) MUST always maintain a disciplined lifestyle to keep themselves in TIP-TOP condition.

"There is 'No Pain, No Gain' in this job and players should know this is the harsh reality as a footballer."

"It is only then justification is there to ask for better wages, longer contracts!" as said to this blogger in response to a request for comments on this matter by this official who revealed some negotiations he encountered in the past saw players asking for "unjustified exorbitant" pay rise.

Having seen it all, he went on to reveal what he saw when players reported for their pre-season training which he could only lament in disbelief.


"When the players reported for (pre-season) training in January, half of them were unfit and they (were due to) take their fitness test in mid-January, many of them struggled and could not achieve the incentive mark of below nine minutes.

"(For) those who passed their tests would allow coaches to work with them, but those who don't would (have to) wait for another week to re-test and this was very disruptive to our training plans."

Stoke City featured in pre-season BAT 2015
Stoke City featured in pre-season BAT 2015

"Using European Leagues as a guide, teams begin their pre-season in early July. Following that, they will be traveling and playing friendlies and tournaments around mid-July before kick starts their season in mid-August. What about us?"

The same official also disputed the claims of clubs giving out deals that ended on the last day of November by citing there were contracts offered from the month of December till the end of the following season.

He said: "We had players in the past who started their contracts on the 1st of December right after his previous one with his old club ended just a day before, so it's wrong to say the duration of some playing contracts lasted for eleven months when the pre-season starts on 1st of January the following year!"

This club official went on further to question the professionalism and priorities of some players who take up part-time jobs to supplement their income when rest and recovery should be taken seriously.

"Professional players in Singapore have the least working hours. They are also paid to rest. And do they rest? NO. They do part-time work outside like private hire driving, coaching, etc." he exclaimed.

"Because some claimed that they are not paid well, coaches gave them time off (to take up these sidelines).

"Compared to the rest of the world, they don't need to travel for more than two hours for away matches except to Brunei (to play against Brunei DPMM)."


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