Football leadership elections: Power, “donations” and much intrigue revealed in the campaign
The leadership of Singapore football may be determined by how the public views this half a million dollar question.
With slightly more than two weeks left, the election campaign for the leadership of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has intensified.
In a nearly three-hour long press conference on 13 April at Fullerton Bay Hotel, Hougang United chairman Bill Ng shared his team’s seven-plan manifesto and revealed something intriguing — he had donated $850,000 to the football fraternity and did not know what the money was used for.
In response to a journalist’s question on the “donations”, Ng, who leads an FAS leadership team called the Game Changers, said,
“That is the big question. I am not in the FAS.
Perhaps the best answer is to call Winston Lee (FAS’ general secretary). (Applause). Not the (FAS) council. I believe none of the council knew anything about this. Thank you.”
In response, Lee, the FAS general secretary, published a statement on FAS website, calling Ng’s accusations as “baseless and untrue”.
We do not want to hurt anybody but here are three questions we have for the FAS:
1. How did FAS manage to run a budget for Lions XII so poorly that they need a donation from Ng?
FAS administers some S$25 million from the Tote Board for football development.
It was also revealed last year that FAS spent $4.4 million on Lions XII.
But they needed another $200,000 from Ng.
“In 2012 when Hougang about to receive our first sponsorship — $200k — and FA come back and ask me ‘Bill, because Lions XII has to go up and down into Malaysia and play, budget overrun, can you help us?”
2. Why is FAS seeking so much donations that is not benefiting FAS directly?
This was what Ng revealed during his press conference,
“You should perhaps ask me why everytime there is a problem, FA (Football Association) come and look for me? That should be a better question. Maybe you should ask Winston why he only come and look for me?
Coming back to the profits (of his football clubs), yes, we accumulated quite a bit of profit for both clubs and we also donated back since 2010, 2011. We donated about $850k back. I am quite sure that this is quite unusual because I told Winston my dream is to put it back to the FA…”
And this is Lee’s response:
“In 2014, FAS spoke to Mr Ng on the subject of supporting the ASEAN Football Federation’s (AFF) Football Management System. Mr Ng supported the project with a donation of $500,000 to AFF through FAS. He had full knowledge of what the donation was for, and that none of it came to the FAS.
To reiterate, Mr Ng knew that the money was not being donated to FAS or any Singapore footballing activity, and to claim it was given to FAS is not factual …
All donations and sponsorships from our partners are recorded and accounted for, and we will take the necessary action against parties who wilfully accuse the Association of improper fund management.” FAS website
There is something that both Ng and Lee can agree on — some of the money, to the tune of $500,000 — did not benefit FAS directly.
One cannot help but wonder why the FAS General Secretary urged the Hougang United Chairman to donate $500,000 to help the football community beyond Singapore, especially when some of the National Football League (NFL) clubs were struggling to survive financially.
During FAS’ annual general meeting last Sep, football website FourFourTwo reported FAS vice-president Bernard Tan as saying the following:
“The nett amount of NFL/IWL – the direct cost that we put in the account is $95,000. So the net amount is $70,000 and the rest are participation fees”.
$70,000 to NFL clubs. $500,000 to “Asean Football Federation’s (AFF) football management system?”
3. And wait a minute. What is AFF’s football management system?
We know what AFF is.
AFF is a Malaysian-based regional football organisation that consists of 12 member associations that includes ASEAN countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand and countries further south like Australia and Timor-Leste.
It is also famous for organising tournaments such as the AFF Championship, otherwise known as the Suzuki Cup.
But the question remains on why FAS was used as the conduit to transfer half a million dollars to the organisation’s “management system”.
So we will recap the words of Lee, the vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), and let our readers ponder over it:
“In 2014, FAS spoke to Mr Ng on the subject of supporting the ASEAN Football Federation’s (AFF) Football Management System. Mr Ng supported the project with a donation of $500,000 to AFF through FAS. He had full knowledge of what the donation was for, and that none of it came to the FAS.”
Top photo from Mothership.sg.