Singapore Football

Hougang: Warriors tapped up goalkeeper Fadhil

In a twist to the goalkeeping conundrum at Warriors FC, the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League champions look set to have to answer a formal complaint lodged by Hougang United for "an unauthorised approach" for custodian Fadhil Salim.

Hougang lodged their complaint via their solicitors last Thursday.

In it, Hougang claimed the Warriors had breached the relevant provisions in The S.League Official Handbook, Rules of the S.League and Laws of the Game 2014.

In the complaint, Hougang provided what they deemed as evidence of Warriors coach Alex Weaver directly approaching Fadhil last October, despite the goalkeeper still having more than a year left on his existing contract.

According to the handbook, clubs that want to sign another team's player are obliged to inform the said club before commencing negotiations.

They can commence negotiations only two months before the expiry of the player's contract, or anytime his club stop in any competition organised by the S.League, whichever is later.

Hougang claimed that Fadhil was offered a first-team spot at the Warriors, as well as the opportunity to feature in the AFC Champion League and, should they lose in the play-offs, the AFC Cup. 

The 31-year-old was allegedly asked by Warriors to request for a release from Hougang without any compensation.

Hougang chairman Bill Ng confirmed that they had filed the complaint.

"Yes, we did so on Thursday. It's in FAS' (Football Association of Singapore) hands now, so we have no further comment at this point," he said.

In a response to queries from The New Paper, a spokesman for the FAS said: "S.League received an official complaint from Hougang United FC last Thursday alleging an unauthorised approach for one of their contracted players by Warriors FC and a possible breach of S.League regulations. 

"The matter is under investigation and, as such, we are unable to comment any further on this issue."

They did not provide a timeline for the investigations nor did they comment on the possible sanctions the nine-time S.League champions face, if they are found guilty of contravening the rules.

It is believed that Weaver will meet the FAS today to give his side of the story.

Warriors had been looking for a goalkeeper after S.League Player of the Year Hassan Sunny left the club in the off-season. They currently have the inexperienced duo of Neezam Aziz and Daniel Ong on their books.

Weaver rubbished the allegations against him and said: "I've heard about the complaint. As for an illegal approach, I think it is nonsense because we went through the proper channel. 

"I found out about the player's initial interest (to join the Warriors) from my players, which is something that happens a lot in the S.League; players talk to players.

"I spoke to Nicholas (Low, Hougang manager) some time during the Christmas period about our interest in Fadhil. He was made aware that things were being discussed on the board level.

"Nicholas told me that the process would be delayed because of the festive period and that was it as far as I know. So this (allegation) is surprising and disappointing, to be honest."

It is a well-known that the practice of approaching players well before before their contract is up has been ongoing for years.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one former S.League player said: "I guess most clubs do it simply because they want to plan ahead for the following season.

"Not many players are on long-term contracts here and sometimes the uncertainty can be unsettling. 

"In this situation, if there is even one club willing to offer you the assurance of employment for the next season, would you want to take the risk and wait until the end of the season to see if you are retained or released?"