Tampines in a money muddle
CPF looking into Tampines' contributions to staff; Komoco recalling loan
S.League club Tampines Rovers ran into cash-flow problems last April, and it appears that the club are facing another money muddle this year.
The New Paper understands that the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board is looking into the club, with former sponsor Komoco Motors recalling a $190,000 loan.
Tampines are also facing a repayment of a $756,000 "sponsorship credit line" from Taiwanese tech company Nogle, starting next year.
This comes after TNP reported in March that Tampines were late in paying player salaries in January and February, with other administrative issues seeing the club facing fines by local and regional football authorities.
1) CASH-FLOW PROBLEMS
Tampines general manager Desmund Khusnin told TNP that the club had faced cash-flow problems earlier in the year but, while he remained confident that the Stags will sort out their financial issues, he could not explain exactly how they will do so.
"There was a delay (of CPF payments) in March - a three-week delay - but, after that, it's all been sorted out. During that period, there was a cash-flow issue, but now I'm sure it will not happen again," he said.
TNP has seen letters sent by the CPF's Recovery Department, asking for a meeting with at least five Tampines players and two of their non-playing staff members at its office next month. Desmund confirmed that he, too, had received a similar letter.
"In March, there were a lot of payments due, including those for the AFC Cup," he said, referring to Tampines' involvement in the continental tournament.
The club had to travel to Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines during the group stage, but their involvement in the tournament has ended with their failure to qualify for the knockout stage.
We have heard concerns raised about this matter, and are looking into it.Kok Wai Leong, the S.League’s director of operations, on the Tampines Rovers situation
"Those things (bills) were coming in, but now we're stabilised without the AFC Cup. There's only the S.League," said Desmund.
2) KOMOCO LOAN
TNP understands that Tampines' former sponsor Komoco has recalled a $190,000 loan made to the club, understood to be for last year's AFC campaign.
The loan recall came this month, when Stags chief Krishna Ramachandra was paying some players' salaries with his own money.
Desmund revealed that the money was used to pay eight players who needed their wages earlier, although the club have yet to repay Krishna.
"Those (players) who needed (their salaries) urgently came forward and, because they needed it urgently, they were paid through the chairman's personal account... but that is not a cash-flow issue," Desmund said.
"I think there were eight of them. We are in the process of paying him (Krishna) back in the coming months.
"Once the club are stabilised, we can work out all this."
3) SPONSORSHIP CREDIT LINE
Last July, The Straits Times reported that Tampines signed a $750,000 "sponsorship deal" with Taiwanese tech firm Nogle, but TNP has learnt that the deal is a "credit line" that requires the club to either return the money or convert the monies to shares in the club if they privatise.
S.League clubs are registered societies - not private entities - that come under the umbrella of the league.
"There's some agreement, because it's a sponsorship credit line, it's like later on they will monetise, or make it into a sponsorship," said Desmund.
TNP understands that Tampines were initially required to repay Nogle $21,000 per month, starting January this year.
When asked if Tampines need to repay Nogle, Desmund said: "Yes, in 2018."
4) REVENUE STREAMS
Tampines have already given up their licence to run jackpot operations, with Krishna previously telling TNP that it was a decision made on moral grounds.
But TNP understands that the club have re-applied for the licence.
While the Police Licencing and Regulatory Department, which determines if an organisation receives approval to run such operations, declined to reveal if Tampines' application has been approved, Desmund confirmed that the club have yet to receive the nod.
But he asserted that the club are in good stead, although another of their revenue streams has fizzled out.
Its partnership with the Ronaldinho academy is dead in the water. International Football Group (IFG) - the partner company in the deal - is run by Krishna's brother Gane Ramachandra.
The Today newspaper reported last week that IFG owes its employees up to eight months of unpaid salaries.
Tampines bid and won the lease for a pitch at Dempsey for the academy, costing $18,888 per month, but have since given up the pitch.
"The CSR (corporate social responsibility) project is almost there," said Desmund, pointing to Tampines' revenue stream that will replace the Ronaldinho academy and their jackpot operations.
"The chairman and the committee have sorted it out. Details will come out in the future, but I'm confident that none of these (payment) delays will happen again."
5) BOARDROOM DEPARTURE
Not all is well in the Tampines boardroom.
As reflected on the club's website, there are now only four members in the club's management committee, following the resignation of vice-chairman Chris Wong.
When contacted, Wong would only say: "I left the club at the end of April due to work commitments."
Desmund remained optimistic, but revealed that the club will not be splashing the cash in the next three years.
He said: "The budget for the next three years will probably not be so big, but we will survive. (But there will be) no more of the 2016 kind of budget (that saw the entry of marquee players like Jermaine Pennant)."
In response to TNP's queries on the Tampines situation, the S.League's director of operations Kok Wai Leong said: "We have heard concerns raised about this matter, and are looking into it."