Too tough to call
Both Team LKT and Game Changers confident of winning mandate; 26 seems to be the magic number
It is some two years in the making and will finally come to a head today.
After world football governing body Fifa requested a review of the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS) constitution to ensure changes that will see a democratic election of its leadership, the FAS' 44 affiliates will come together at the Singapore Sports Hub's Black Box Auditorium this morning to cast their votes.
Battle lines have been drawn, scratched off and redrawn since the election was called for more than a month ago on March 18.
But, even hours away from when votes will be cast at 11am today, it remains impossible to call it.
According to sources, both teams believe they have at least 26 votes - a number that is enough to win only the mandate of the electorate in the second round of voting.
A two-thirds majority is required to win the right into FAS' Jalan Besar offices at the first time of asking and, if that benchmark is not met, affiliates will go to the ballot box a second time, where only a simple majority - 23 votes - is enough for the slate to win the election.
Bill Ng's Game Changers have the advantage on the flop.
There are six clubs - Hougang United, Tiong Bahru FC (both Bill Ng), Tampines Rovers (Krishna Ramachandra), Kaki Bukit SC (Zaki Ma'arof), GFA Victoria (Harman Ali) and South Avenue (Shahri Rahim) - directly affiliated to the members in their slate and the individual candidates affiliated to the team.
Ng is also believed to have strong influence in Woodlands Wellington.
But, with Team LKT having five clubs - Yishun Sentek Mariners (Yakob Hashim), Admiralty CSC (Rizal Rasudin), Eunos Crescent (Darwin Jalil), Balestier Khalsa and Balestier United (S Thavaneson) - it is only a marginal difference.
But the remaining numbers do not add up.
Team LKT believe they have won over the National Football League Division 1 clubs, with 10 of 12 teams in that division backing their bid for office, as well as nine of 12 teams in the "Interest Groups" category.
With two more supporters in the NFL Division 2, they should have at least 26 votes today.
But the Game Changers believe that based on attendance figures of their last two meetings with the affiliates, with 19 members attending the first engagement session and 21 in the last one held on Thursday night, they, too, have enough to edge it at the election.
NOT UPFRONT WITH SUPPORT
They have set their numbers also at 26.
And, with a total of 44 voting affiliates, it suggests that some of them have not been upfront with their support.
It is hardly surprising in what has been a cloak-and-dagger approach to campaigning on both sides of the fence.
There have been suggestions of vote buying, issues of integrity raised with Ng hauled up for suspected misuse of funds at Tiong Bahru, as well as an attempt by a senior official of a club attempting to obstruct the completion of audits of club funds demanded by the FAS and national sports agency Sport Singapore (SportSG).
Investigations by law enforcement authorities are ongoing, with three clubs associated with Ng - Hougang, Tiong Bahru and Woodlands - raided, along with FAS offices at Jalan Besar.
Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and FAS general secretary Winston Lee are currently out on bail.
But, according to the FAS Electoral Committee, Ng remains eligible to stand for the post of president.
It is clear that support is divided in the fraternity, with some believing that Team LKT represent the problem, with eight of their total 15 members having served in various leadership teams in the FAS in the past, while others slammed what they perceive to be shady dealings in Ng's football clubs.
But only two numbers remain critical - the number of votes that either team can win when votes are cast after 11am today.
Based on ground sentiment, only 23 votes will be needed to earn the mandate to lead Singapore football in the next four years and the fraternity at large awaits to see which team have done their calculations correctly.