Number of Teams: 12
Relegation to: N/A
Domestic Cups: Singapore Cup, Singapore League Cup, Singapore Charity Shield
Current Champions: Etoile FC
Most number of Championships: Singapore Armed Forces (8)
Prior to the development of the S.League in 1996, local football competitions weren’t the main attraction for local football fans. Singapore had long entered teams into the Malaysia Cup and in the Malaysian League. For over 70 years Singapore was one of the dominant sides in Malaysia, playing in front of thousands of fans each game.
However, in 1994 relations between the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) became strained when the FAM stated its desire to place a levy of gate receipts for all Singapore games. Rather than accept the levy, Singapore withdrew from Malaysian competitions and set about creating its own professional league.
A task force was created and Douglas Moore, the coach of the 1994 Malaysian championship winning side, was appointed the CEO.
The S.Legue debuted in in 1996 with 8 teams, split into two series. In each series each team played each other home and away, with the winners of the two series meeting in a playoff to decide the ultimate champion. In the inaugural season, Geylang United won the first series and Singapore Armed Forces won the second. Meeting in the Championship Playoff it was Geylang who proved victorious with a 2-1 win.
The two-series format was replaced in 1997 by a traditional league format and the S.League has grown to 12 teams. With no promotion/relegation system in place, the clubs that play in the S.League each year are selected by the FAS, with clubs having to meet certain criteria to qualify.
To facilitate the development of their younger players the FAS took the decision to include the Young Lions, largely made up of players from the national U23 side, in the competition. The club is under the control of the FAS and players in the squad must be under the age of 23.
Given the small size of Singapore there is a need to have some non-Singapore teams play in the competition to ensure there is a sufficient number of clubs. Ten non-Singapore clubs have played in the S.League over its 15 year history, with teams from Japan, China, Brunei taking part as well as teams with players of only French and African origin.