SINGAPORE - LIONSXII stars Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khaizan have seen their prospective transfers to the Thai Premier League (TPL) torpedoed.
Shahril, his agent Abdul Halim of Offside Sports Management and LionsXII team manager Eugene Loo met at Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday afternoon to discuss the issue.
While the initial outcome of the talks had the players' camps feeling hopeful, a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) statement released three hours later seemed to suggest that the moves were dead in the water.
In the statement, a spokesman noted the FAS "could not accede to the request as it will hinder our ability to successfully meet our objectives next season".
He added: "During the discussion we had with the player's agent earlier today, we explained to him that we have a young LionsXII team which needs the experience and leadership of the two senior players in the upcoming season.
"At the same time, we also conveyed our concerns that the loss of the two senior players could affect the coach's ability to field a full team in the away matches of the Malaysian Super League (MSL), since 13 players in the 26-man squad will be serving full-time National Service.
"Moreover, given that the registration deadline for the MSL 2013 season has passed, we will not be able to sign any replacements of similar quality before the next transfer window opens in April."
In the statement, LionsXII coach V Sundramoorthy also said: "Shahril and Bai are the most experienced players in the LionsXII squad and I need their experience and leadership to guide and mentor the younger players in the team - most of whom will be representing Singapore in the South-east Asia Games later next year.
"They have signed a professional contract and I believe that they will fulfil the contractual obligations and remain committed to the team. I look forward to their contributions in the new season."
After Monday afternoon's meeting, Halim said the main stumbling block to FAS releasing the players from their contracts was the inability to register replacements.
But the agent was hopeful that the FAS would still find a way to accommodate Shahril's request to leave for TPL side Bangkok Glass, and said another meeting would be set up to continue discussions.