FAS circular to NFL clubs raises eyebrows ahead of elections
Independent candidates hail new focus on amateur league, but question possible 'electioneering'
The term for the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) provisional council led by lawyer Lim Kia Tong came to an end on March 31, with the fraternity set to come together on April 29 to vote in new leadership in the body's first democratic election.
With 23 of FAS' 44 voting members hailing from the amateur National Football League (NFL), that segment of the fraternity has become a key battleground in the election battle between Lim's team (Team LKT) and the one led by Hougang United chairman Bill Ng (Game Changers).
That is why eyebrows were raised when the FAS secretariat sent out an e-mail on Wednesday calling for NFL clubs to meet and discuss issues of sponsorship, subsidies and player insurance.
The e-mail also credited the "FAS president" for managing to secure sponsors, noting that the FAS now in the "final stages of working out a subsidy scheme for all participating NFL clubs".
The New Paper understands that Lim played a key role in securing sponsors for the NFL, which has struggled to attract financial support, among other issues.
When queried over the e-mail, an FAS spokesman said: "The FAS Competitions Division sent out an e-mail last night to all NFL clubs to provide them with an update on the status of NFL player insurance coverage.
"This is an issue which was brought up repeatedly by NFL clubs during previous NFL meetings in September last year and also February this year, where they sought the assistance of then-FAS Provisional Council President Mr Lim Kia Tong to help secure more funding for the NFL through sponsorship and other fund-raising initiatives.
"As part of the FAS' day-to-day operations, we needed to provide an update to all NFL clubs on this matter and the contents of the e-mail are factual.
"It should not be seen as 'electioneering' on the part of the FAS secretariat."
Speaking to TNP, two of the men who are running as independent candidates for six council member positions at the election raised questions as to the purpose of such a circular, especially during the campaigning period before FAS affiliates go to the ballot box at the end of the month.
"I fully support the move to pay more attention to the NFL. I think it is long overdue, but without any prejudice, I think there are a few key questions to asked," said Sebastian Tan.
"We must bear in mind that NFL clubs hold the majority of votes at this election.
"Also, as I understand it, there is no FAS provisional council or president now - could this be better timed?
Fellow independent candidate James Lim echoed his thoughts.
He said: "It is true that such issues were raised in meetings leading up to the election.
"I'm glad that NFL clubs are getting attention and their voices heard.
"That's why I think the election is a godsend.
"Whether this move is electioneering or not, the FAS secretariat has sweetened the ground for Team LKT by specifically naming a contestant for the FAS presidency and attributing him for the good development.
"Mr Lim can of course claim credit for the scheme in (his) election campaign."
The NFL campaign was pencilled in for a May 7 kick-off, with the FAS election about a week earlier on April 29 at the Singapore Sports Hub's Black Box.