Since winning the Malaysian Super League with the Lions XII, coach V. Sundramoorthy has been in hot demand with various teams in Singapore and Malaysia going after his signature. Early this month, the football coach once known as “The Dazzler” made public his decision to leave the Lions XII team to coach the team of Negeri Sembilan.
I admit I was a little surprised by the decision as Negeri Sembilan is in the Malaysian second-tier, but with a reported salary of $15,000 per month, Sundram’s decision is understandable. Sundram is not the only one leaving the team. Key Lions XII players Shahril Ishak, Baihakki Khaizan, Hariss Harun and Safuwan Baharudin are all rumoured to be eyeing high-paying moves to Malaysian and Thai sides next season.
This means that a year after winning the Malaysian Super League, the Lions XII will be a vastly different team next season. I don’t blame any of the players or Sundram for this. The blame I believe falls strictly on the shoulders of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
Last season, the Lions XII team did very well. We finished in the top 3 of the League and reached the semi-finals of the Malaysia Cup. Yet, the FAS never tied down the contracts of our coach or our top players. Yes, some might argue that there was no way the FAS could reached or matched the rumored salary on offer, Baihakki Khaizan is rumored to have been offered a contract worth $25,000 per month, but that doesn’t mean the FAS should have allowed the contracts of Sundram and gang to run out.
Even after the success last season, the FAS only offered one year or two year contracts to the players. Those on their final contract year were allowed to run them out. Honestly, that is just stupid!
Singapore needs to tie down the contracts of our top players and we need to do it yesterday. The FAS need to change their policy of 1 year contracts or we are going to have an ever changing Lions XII team every year. Worse, considering what the teams in Malaysia are offering our players, it’s not even a contest.
Players (and coach) who worry about their long-term career would always prefer to head north of the Causeway where not only would they get better salary, they will get a longer contract to boot! Singapore has always worry about being "competitive" compared to our neighbors. In the realm of football, we are not even close.