Why It Matters

Enough with the Hubbub

The public spat between SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL) and its consortium partner Global Spectrum Pico (GSP) is something Singapore's premier sports and entertainment facility does not need.

Already under the microscope for its lack of premium events this year and with a reputation for being overpriced, the Sports Hub is now in the news again following reports that major equity holder Infrared Capital Partners is set to terminate GSP's venue operation contract.

It is believed that GSP, tasked to secure both sporting and non-sporting content for the Hub, was found - in a KPMG audit - to have breached limits of its contract which led to SHPL incurring losses. GSP, through its parent company Comcast Spectacor, has called the assertions against it "baseless allegations".

Internal management squabbles are definitely not unique to the Hub. But when such public barb trading happens in only the second year of operations, the situation requires closer attention.

Singapore's reputation is at stake here. At a time when the Republic is trying to establish itself as an entertainment centre - with both premier sporting events such as the World Rugby Sevens Series and premium acts such as Madonna set to rock Kallang in the coming months - this sideshow cannot be healthy.

SHPL has been silent on speculation about GSP's future, although it did admit that a review of the Sports Hub's operations is ongoing.

But that has not stopped people from wondering just what is going on at the Hub. Sponsors are reportedly spooked. Potential partners, already turned off by the talk of high prices, are even more unlikely to view Singapore as a favourable destination to bring in a sports team or an A-list performer.

On paper, this SHPL-GSP saga may just be a boardroom tussle. But when one considers the repercussions this could have for the country, it is incumbent on the authorities to pay close attention to a national project that has, unfortunately, made headlines more often for the wrong reasons than right.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Enough with the Hubbub'. Print Edition | Subscribe