Major hurdle for new FAS council as S.League braces for funding cut
S.League's future the focus of two-hour meeting as clubs brace themselves for funding cut
For almost two hours at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night, Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Lim Kia Tong and his council met chairmen from various S.League clubs.
Behind closed doors, Lim and his council members gathered input from the chairmen to chart the course of the Republic's professional football league beyond this season.
The meeting took place after weeks of murmurs that there would be significant cuts to funding disbursed by the Tote Board for the 2018 S.League season.
But Lim dispelled talk that a decision had already been made by the Tote Board or national sports agency Sport Singapore, who in March announced it would be the gatekeeper of annual subsidies to the FAS.
When asked if last night's meeting was a platform for FAS to inform the club chairmen of the impending changes, Lim said: "No, no... That's not correct."
He added: "The purpose of the meeting is to get the sentiment of the chairmen on how the S.League should move forward.
"The dimension and landscape (of the S.League) will be determined by... possible funding cuts, if any.
"The meeting was very open, very frank and positive.
"During the (FAS) election (in April), we said this new council wants to be inclusive and this is one example.
"We want the views of the chairmen, and for those who were not present, they told me their ideas over the phone."
Chairmen from Home United, Geylang International, Tampines Rovers and Balestier Khalsa were present at last night's meeting.
Albirex Niigata general manager Koh Mui Tee represented his club.
The chairmen of Warriors FC and Hougang United were unable to attend the meeting.
Sources told The New Paper that next season, the Tote Board will disburse only about half of the $16 million it pumps into the S.League annually.
Local clubs currently receive about $800,000 in funding, which makes up a large chunk of their annual budget of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.
But they are bracing themselves for a significant cut.
Balestier chief S Thavaneson, who is also an FAS vice-president, said: "All I can say is that we are still in discussions with SportSG.
"It's premature to speculate anything at this point.
"We met the club chairmen to discuss their views, because they are party to everything.
"Does the S.League need a fundamental way in the way it is running? Can it be done better?
"The meeting was very positive, that's my view."
Geylang chairman Ben Teng said: "It was a consultative meeting.
"There is still more to discuss, and the FAS still has to make their presentation to Sport Singapore, so everything that people are hearing at the moment are just rumours."
Albirex's Koh, however, expressed concern at the possible budget cuts for S.League clubs.
"We currently do a lot of community outreach activities, in particular with Yuhua Constituency Sports Club," he said.
"We want to continue our collaboration with them, but the proposed funding cuts may make it difficult for us to do so."