All parties involved in FAS election must open their books
Instead of big ideas, the battle for FAS leadership has taken an ugly turn and it's time all parties reveal all
It is meant to be the beautiful game but how it has turned so ugly in Singapore at the moment.
While the S.League rolls on in its 22nd season, and Richard Tardy and V Selvaraj continue their tutorship of the Singapore Under-22s for the South-east Asia Games in August in Kuala Lumpur, and V Sundramoorthy prepares the Lions for their next crucial Asian Cup qualifier on home soil in June, the election fight for the right to lead the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) over the next four years has become a sordid mess.
Instead of a battle of ideas, it has turned into a web of insinuations and suggestions of mismanagement, perhaps even corruption.
This is serious, and I urge the FAS and Game Changers chief Bill Ng to open their books for the sake of accountability.
If everything is above board with the monies donated by Hougang United chairman Ng, either to or through the FAS, that will be borne out by what is a logical next step.
If not, action must be taken.
Instead of the back-and-forth scenario currently being played out, all parties involved must clear up this controversy and release all accounts for scrutiny immediately.
And if, as has been claimed, there has been no flouting of rules, then we can turn to the serious business of making Singapore's No. 1 sport a formidable force in South-east Asia, with football teams that feature regularly in the main competitions on the continent.
The FAS election is on April 29 and, as it stands right now, the team led by Lim Kia Tong and their opponents the Game Changers share a remarkably similar manifesto.
I feel the Game Changers missed a wonderful opportunity to wrest the initiative at their press conference last Thursday when only the tale of Ng's donations made the headlines.
Two weeks after Team LKT revealed their manifesto, the Game Changers had a chance to come up with at least one bold idea to excite Singaporeans and the 44 affiliates who will vote in the election.
Instead, Ng and his team talked about attracting sponsors, improving the S.League and the amateur National Football League, boosting women's football, ensure transparency, build a National Training Centre and open up more fields of play, and create a pool of talented local coaches, all also key targets of Lim's outfit.
And much of the rest of the time was spent on his charitable donations to the FAS and where they went.
They are two sound plans, but there are no details over how they are going to hit financial targets or make the S.League better.
If only Team LKT or the Game Changers had come out to say they would adopt the rugby blueprint of New Zealand for Singapore football, if voted in as the next FAS council.
Or take advantage of the Memorandum of Understanding the FAS has with the Japan Football Association and attach talented youngsters with J.League clubs for a month during the extended school holidays annually.
Or reveal how they will work with Sport Singapore to ensure genuinely gifted young footballers become SpexScholars and receive all the help they can get to realise their talent.
I wish Ng had expanded on his plans to lift the S.League instead of simply mentioning it in a throwaway line.
Both teams largely seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet, with the Game Changers' battle cry being that they are new faces while Team LKT's outfit are stacked with members from the previous council.
I wonder if that is a winning strategy.
Yes, Team LKT are full of faces from the previous leadership led by Zainudin Nordin that failed to ignite local football.
But Ng and his vice-presidential candidate, Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra, have hardly made waves in the S.League with their respective clubs.
Deputy presidential candidate Lau Kok Keng was second in command to Geylang chairman Leong Kok Fann and the S.League side were also poor when they held the reigns.
Singapore hockey struggled under the stewardship of veteran sports administrator Annabel Pennefather, another candidate for vice-president in the Game Changers.
They are hardly new faces in Singapore sport, as well.
I actually believe the Game Changers and Team LKT show off able candidates, but I just wish this election would be about big ideas.
Singapore football needs it. Both parties contesting must get it.
First though, all parties involved must move away from the ugly sniping and open up their books and get to the bottom of the financial issues that have been raised.