Tampines dispute former sponsor's debt claim
S.League club won't heed Komoco's loan repayment demand based on alleged administrative issues
Tampines Rovers' lawyers have responded to Komoco Motors' letter of demand for a repayment of a $190,000 sum made out to the club in 2015, asking for Komoco to withdraw its claim.
The New Paper has seen Tampines' 14-point letter that also includes supporting documents disputing the veracity of Komoco's debt claims.
Several administrative issues were alleged by the S.League club's lawyers, including one with the club's management structure in 2015.
Komoco Motors Group managing director Teo Hock Seng served as Tampines chairman from 2000 to November 2015 before he was succeeded by then vice-chairman Krishna Ramachandra.
In addition to Teo, there were two other Komoco staff on the Tampines committee in 2015, with the name of at least one other Komoco staff also appearing on official club documents then.
Komoco were sponsors of Tampines until the relationship ended ahead of the 2017 S.League season.
Tampines lawyers flagged among other things the number of staff from the sponsor company then sitting on the decision-making body of the club.
In a statement yesterday, the club simply said: "We will not comment on this ongoing legal matter."
A club spokesman had earlier told the TODAY newspaper that the current management committee is "not at liberty to simply pay out on an amount that is in the accounts that the new committee had absolutely no control over".
"At this stage, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment as we do not want to compromise the integrity of the investigation whilst it is ongoing."
— FAS vice-president Edwin Tong
Like Tampines, Komoco were also tight-lipped.
While there was confirmation of the receipt of the letter from Tampines' lawyers, all a Komoco spokesman would say, in response to TNP's queries, was: "We have left this matter in the hands of our legal advisers."
Tampines have faced various financial difficulties in recent times.
There have been cash flow issues and instances of late payment of salaries to staff.
The Central Provident Fund Board's Recovery Department has also monitored the club's CPF contributions to staff.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is now putting the entire Tampines situation under the microscope.
"The FAS is looking into the matter. The financial integrity and proper management of S.League clubs are key priorities for the council. We need to ensure that clubs are run in strict accordance with laws and regulations," said FAS vice-president Edwin Tong, in response to TNP queries.
Komoco's Teo is also a vice- president at the FAS, installed after the association's election in April, but Tong revealed that he will play no part in any Tampines issue that he is involved in.
"Given that some of the matters relate to or concern Teo Hock Seng, he will be recused from considering this matter," said Tong, a lawyer and MP.
"We will update you once there is a conclusion to our findings."
While off-the-field issues continue to dog the Stags, Krishna's first moves with the club made news around the world.
The S.League outfit signed former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant, then proceeded to secure the services of former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier as an international ambassador, before inking a deal to help run the football academy of Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldinho.
Pennant left after one season with Tampines, while the Ronaldinho academy failed to get off the ground.