FAS leadership face tough challenges ahead as SportSG withholds funding
NSA funding withheld, S.League may see reduced financial support from 2018 season
It was just over two months ago that they won the mandate of the local football fraternity.
President Lim Kia Tong and his Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council were charged with transforming and rejuvenating local football.
The council have spent the first few months in the FAS offices at the Jalan Besar Stadium getting their house in order.
But they are set to face a whole set of challenges in the coming months.
The New Paper has learnt that local sports governing body Sports Singapore (SportSG) has withheld funding for the FAS since the beginning of the year, with the national sports association (NSA) digging into its own reserves to fund the activities of its various national teams.
The situation is poised to get worse: TNP understands that the S.League is poised for a significant reduction in funding starting from the 2018 season.
A significant reduction of those funds will force the hand of the FAS.
Three options appear to be on the table: Privatise the league with funds from its own backers, turn semi-professional, or shut down the league in order to undergo a massive revamp.
While SportSG did not answer questions related to its withholding of funds for the FAS, its spokesman said: "SportSG has asked FAS to submit a feasibility study for a revamped domestic league in the second half of 2017.
"It is SportSG's hope that the new model will invigorate the local football scene and effectively contribute to the development of Singapore football."
TNP understands that an August deadline has been set for the FAS to come up with a blueprint for the flailing S.League.
The FAS' situation is distinctly different from other NSAs in Singapore, because the S.League is the only professional sports league in the country.
The league receives over $16 million in funding from the Tote Board, with the Board pouring some $9 million into FAS' separate efforts directed at furthering national football interests.
The FAS also receives an undisclosed amount from SportSG as part of a funding programme for all NSAs.
Starting from the end of last year, SportSG has been the body disbursing all funds going into the FAS, including those from the Tote Board for the S.League.
While some funds have been withheld, TNP understands that monies specifically directed to fuel the S.League have continued to flow.
SportSG has already disbursed the first of two annual tranches of funds for the league, with the second tranche expected next month.
Local clubs in the league receive between $600,000 and $800,000 annually in funding from the Tote Board and they come in monthly tranches of some $50,000.
These funds form a critical portion of the clubs' annual operating budgets, believed to be in the range of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.
A reduction in Tote Board subsidies will certainly jeopardise the S.League's plans to expand from a nine-team league to one that includes at least 10 teams.
The FAS did not respond to TNP's queries by press time.