Affiliation requirements should be more transparent
Former vice-president Tan clarifies that FAS has no 'regulatory authority' over affiliated clubs
They may be affiliated to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), but the national sports association has little say over how the 44 local clubs officially aligned to them operate.
"One of the misconceptions we want to clear is that we have regulatory authority over the (affiliate) clubs, we absolutely don't," said former FAS vice-president Bernard Tan in a media briefing at the Komoco Motors office along Alexandra Road yesterday.
"We have only one hold over (clubs like) Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC), and that is the competition rules of the tournaments they play in.
"Singtel Recreation Club is an affiliate member, but it doesn't give us the right to audit them or dictate how they run their operations, jackpot or otherwise.
"Many members of the public are querying - how could the FAS let this happen? The FAS has no power over this."
Tan was speaking to the media along with former FAS Council members Lim Kia Tong and S Thavaneson last evening.
The three are part of the Team LKT slate contesting in the FAS election this Saturday.
The issue of control arose after Bill Ng, who heads the Game Changers team also contesting the FAS election, revealed two weeks ago that one of his clubs, TBFC, had donated $500,000 to the Asean Football Federation via the FAS.
It was later revealed that National Football League (NFL) outfit TBFC, whose clubhouse at the People's Park Complex runs 29 fruit machines, earned $36.7 million in the last financial year.
Matters came to a head last week, when national sports agency Sport Singapore made a police report over suspected misuse of funds at TBFC, as well as an alleged attempt to delay or obstruct audits until after the FAS election.
The Commerical Affairs Department then raided the FAS offices, as well as three clubs - TBFC, Hougang United and Woodlands Wellington - carting away boxes of documents and computer hardware.
Ng is the chairman of both TBFC and Hougang, who play in the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League, and was associated with Woodlands, when the former S.League club were supposed to merge with Hougang in 2014.
“What we can do is to make the affiliation requirements a bit more transparent; we could tell them to submit certain documents and spend a certain percentage of their incomes on football.”Team LKT’s Bernard Tan, a former FAS vice-president
Some NFL and S.League clubs, such as Balestier Khalsa, Geylang International and Albirex Niigata, operate fruit machines in their clubhouses, which form a significant portion of their operating income.
The police has jurisdiction over matters concerning these fruit machines, via private lotteries permits.
But Balestier chairman Thava said the FAS will have more control over S.League clubs than their NFL counterparts because of the Tote Board subsidies the NSA disburses to the top-flight teams.
Thava said: "The NFL clubs don't get funding (from the FAS); S.League clubs get some funding from the Tote Board and these are public funds and, therefore, there is a very high degree of accountability, with the clubs having to submit monthly accounts.
"If you don't submit (accounts), you don't get your next month's subsidies. The accounts are audited by external auditors and S.League officers look at the accounts and the solvency of the clubs."
Tan said Team LKT may look at amending the criteria for clubs seeking FAS affiliation if they win the election this Saturday.
He said: "What we can do is to make the affiliation requirements a bit more transparent; we could tell them to submit certain documents and spend a certain percentage of their incomes on football.
"We could do something like that, but really we can't change the licensing and gaming laws.
"That's something that we will explore but, right now, we can't answer because we don't have the legal advice."
- ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARIELLE DESCALSOTA AND JOLENE ANG