The Lion City Sailors are delighted to announce Australian centre-back Bailey Wright as the club’s first signing following the appointment of Aleksandar Ranković as Head Coach on 28 June. Bailey joins on a two-year contract, with an option for an additional year’s extension.

The arrival of the 30-year-old marks a significant boost to the Sailors’ defensive capabilities, further strengthening the club’s pursuit of success in the Singapore Premier League (SPL) as well as in the club’s return to the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) top-tier club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

Bailey joins the Sailors after departing Sunderland, where he was a cult hero of the Black Cats’ faithful during his three-and-a-half years on Wearside. Those years saw Sunderland enjoy much success, winning their first trophy since 1973 as they lifted the 2020/21 Papa John’s Trophy at Wembley, before earning promotion into the English second-tier – the Sky Bet Championship – in 2022.

Bailey made 107 appearances for the Black Cats, regularly captaining the side. 

He was a part of Australia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign in Qatar that saw the Socceroos qualify from a group that featured France, Denmark and Tunisia, before falling to Lionel Messi’s Argentina, the eventual tournament winners, in the Round of 16. 

“Bailey has a commanding presence in addition to his physicality, tactical awareness, and ability to read the game, and I’m certain he will help the club raise the bar as we compete at the highest levels,” said Ranković, the Sailors’ new man at the helm. 

“His presence will bolster our defence, providing a sturdy platform for our challenge for the league title and also as we look to improve on our performance on Asia’s top table. The team and I are looking forward to having Bailey settle in and get started.”

The 1.84m defender is equally eager to kickstart his Sailors journey.  

“I’m absolutely delighted to be a part of a club as ambitious as the Sailors, and as well-organised. Everyone at the club has been welcoming, and I’ve had all the support I’ve needed to bed in and get ready to play alongside my new teammates,” said Bailey. 

“Everywhere you go, you hope to leave things in a better place than when you first arrived, and that’s exactly what I hope to achieve here in Singapore. I’ve taken in a few games already, and I’m confident that with the coaching staff and the team working hand in hand, we’ll continue to be able to put in performances like we did in the 7-1 win over Tanjong Pagar United.

“With the Training Centre on Mattar Road and the structures in place, the ingredients for success are present for the club to win trophies.” 

Bailey is the second recent signing who adds European pedigree to the Sailors’ cause, behind the 44-year-old Ranko, who joined from Dutch top-tier side FC Utrecht, with the pair adding to the experience of former PSV Eindhoven man Maxime Lestienne and Diego Lopes, who signed from Portuguese side Rio Ave in 2021.