Gombak eye S-League comeback

An upset K Balagumaran (above), then-Gombak coach, after it was announced that the club were pulling out of the S-League in November last year.

In a few months, Gombak United could take their first steps to re-joining the Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League.

The New Paper understands that the Bulls are hoping to resume their Centres of Excellence (COE) programme for footballers aged 18 and below next year.

The Jurong West-based club could also form an Under-21 team to take part in the Prime League.

This could pave the way for a senior team to eventually return to the S-League in 2015.

Speaking to TNP yesterday, Gombak chairman John Yap said: "Yes, we could field all three COE age group teams (Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18) next year.

"Maybe we could even have a Prime League team, which would be preparation for us to return to the S-League because some of the players would be eligible then.

"As long as we have the blessing of the S-League and the funding is available, we will definitely come back."

S-League chief executive officer Lim Chin welcomed the news.

"Indeed it is good news that Gombak United are making plans to return to the S-League," he said.

"I recently had a chat with John Yap and... his club are presently doing well as he prepares for Gombak to come back even stronger in the future, just like he has done before."

Gombak pulled out of the S-League in November last year, citing financial issues.

It was the Bulls' second period of inaction, having sat out the S-League from 2003 to 2005, also because the club went into the red.

Then, last Febuary, they were forced to stop their COE programme for players aged 18 and below, after the Football Association of Singapore informed the club they were unable to provide the funding the Bulls needed.

Each S-League club receives around $110,000 per year in subsidies specifically for their COE programmes, with the funds utilised for coach wages, equipment, pitch booking fees, as well as allowances for players.

While Yap played down the likelihood of Gombak making an immediate return to the S-League next season, he said his club were on the right track.

"We won't be hurrying back (to the S-League)," he said.

"We've been reviewing our processes, made some significant improvements (and) we're embarking on a programme to update our revenue model.

"We should be about 60 per cent complete with the new programme by year's end."

Gombak finished ninth in the S-League last season, and their best finish was third in 2009.

In 2008, the Bulls won their only piece of silverware when they emerged victorious in the League Cup.

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