Tampines grapple with wage woes and jersey issues
Only weeks into new S.League season, players worry over wages as club struggle with kits and registration
It is now two straight months that Tampines Rovers have been late in paying salaries to some of their players.
Some were paid on time, but others had to wait more than a week to receive monies owed to them for January.
The February situation was not much better.
One player registered in Tampines' S.League squad received his wages only yesterday.
While club chairman Krishna Ramachandra insists that the situation is nothing like the cash-flow issue Tampines faced last year, the club have also been hit with two fines over administrative issues.
The first fine of US$2,000 (S$2,820) was for a failure to bring a second kit to their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League qualifier against Global FC in Manila in January.
The jersey problem has even extended to their Prime League squad, who were forced to purchase and wear kits of a different brand to that of their S.League seniors in their opening match against Balestier Khalsa yesterday, because the supplier of the club's Jako brand could not get it in time.
The second fine that Tampines face is for failing to meet the Feb 24 registration deadline for their Prime League squad.
The quantum of this fine is not known.
As a result, Tampines' Prime League side could name only two goalkeepers and one outfield player as their substitutes for the match at Toa Payoh Stadium, which ended 2-2.
Head coach Jita Singh was also prevented from sitting on the bench because he had yet to be registered.
NO FINANCIAL ISSUES
Krishna said that the situation with wages occurred because the club were "waiting on subsidies" from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
"Last year's financial situation (compared to) this year is chalk and cheese. I know if there is a financial issue... there isn't. (This is) an administrative issue," said the lawyer.
TNP reported in April last year that Tampines were facing cash-flow issues and had asked the FAS to step in to help.
The FAS declined to give special treatment to Tampines, but the Stags managed to sort out their issues.
Clubs receive some $800,000 in annual subsidies from the Tote Board, disbursed by the S.League in monthly tranches of about $50,000 each month.
Instead of receiving funds directly from the Tote Board, the league now receives the unchanged quantum of subsidies through Sport Singapore (SportSG), the governing body of national sports associations.
The New Paper understands that SportSG disburses the monies to the S.League in two tranches each year.
"We have not been informed of any late or non-payment of salaries by any club. All clubs are to pay the players' salaries on time as part of good club management," said an S.League spokesman in response to TNP's queries.
The spokesman did not answer queries on if there was a delay - on the S.League's part - in disbursing subsidies to clubs, but some S.League clubs TNP spoke to revealed that there was indeed a problem in January, with clubs requiring to dig into their own reserves to meet payment deadlines then.
"Yes, we did get fined US$2,000 after that AFC Champions League qualifier against Global FC because we didn't bring a second kit along with us," Tampines general manager Desmund Khusnin told TNP.
He said the suppliers of their Jako jerseys could not deliver the kits on time, as per AFC requirements.
"They also did not deliver our kits before the Albirex game, so we had to tear off the AFC logo on the sleeves of the shirt and replace them with the S.League logo (as per S.League requirements)."
Tampines fell 2-1 to Albirex Niigata in the season-opening Great Eastern Community Shield at the National Stadium on Feb 26.
"I have spoken with our supplier, and they will pay the (AFC) fine," Desmund added.
TNP understands that local sports apparel brand Thorb were put on standby to provide jerseys for the Community Shield fixture.
Yesterday, Thorb delivered the kits for Tampines' Prime League fixture just hours before kick-off.
On the Prime League registration issue, Desmund said that a Tampines administrator who had all the required documents was hospitalised last week.
Regarding the pay issue, some Stags have requested for official pay slips that the club have yet to produce.
Some players have signed contracts that set aside a portion of their wages - up to $2,000 each month - to be paid in a lump sum at the end of the year.
For example, a player on $4,000 gets paid $2,000 each month, with $24,000 to be paid later - a move Krishna said is to help the club with their cash flow.
The players' worries were exacerbated by the fact that at least one of them was paid in cash, instead of the money being banked into his account, during the months of January and February.
"We have employed a payroll company to handle this for us, and they wanted more details of new players," said Desmund.
The company "was closed during the Chinese New Year period", which added to the delay, he added.
"We have had an urgent meeting with the payroll company to sort this out," said Desmund.
Tampines' senior side are in Bacolod City in the Philippines, preparing to face Ceres Negros in a Group G AFC Cup fixture tomorrow.