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 By Kenneth Tan

Brunei DPMM set to leave S.League, join Indonesia's Ligue 1

Brunei DPMM
Brunei DPMM joined the S.League in 2009.

S.League club Brunei DPMM have stunned the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) by threatening to quit the league and move to Indonesia due to new restrictions imposed by the ruling body.

With the S.League introducing age restrictions to encourage youth development and reducing the foreign player quota from three to two, invitees Brunei DPMM could make the decision to exit the competition.

The club announced on their official website that they are planning to play in Indonesia's Ligue 1 in 2018.

While the Singapore-based clubs are required to register at least six under-23 players and eight under-30 players, Japanese invitees Albirex Niigata (S) are also required to align with the new rules.

The champions have agreed to register nine Under-21 players, nine Under-23 players and just one player of any age.

While it is unclear whether such conditions apply to DPMM, the Straits Times reported that a meeting between the club officials and the FAS earlier this week did not go well.

Although they understand FAS' new focus on youth development, the club has concerns that the new rules will affect their ability to compete.

Last season, they registered three Under-23 players, 12 Under-30 players and had seven players over the age of 30.

But FAS president Lim Kia Tong is hopeful that DPMM will remain to ensure the 2018 S.League season kicks off with nine teams as originally planned.

"We made it clear that Singapore, and in particular the FAS, has always treasured their participation in our league," Lim told the Straits Times.

"DPMM have been participating in our league for a number of years and they've acquitted themselves very well, both on and off the pitch.

"They are a crystal clear example of clean sporting spirit. We made it clear that we do want them to continue to participate in our league, and we will do what we can to accommodate them for this to continue."

DPMM has been largely successful since debuting in the S.League in 2009, winning three League Cups before a maiden S.League title came in 2015.

However, 2017 was a huge disappointment as they finished in the bottom two for the first time in their history. All three foreigners Rafael Ramazotti, Daud Gazale and Vincent Salas have since been released, while former Brazil under-20 coach Rene Weber has replaced former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean at the helm.

It is understood that the Wasps had sought to rejoin the Malaysia Super League, where they played from 2005 to 2008, but the move did not work out, as they would not agree to take in Malaysian players and play their home games in Malaysia.

Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT

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