Members of the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) will vote tomorrow to decide the fate of the club's president and his deputy over an austerity drive to preserve club finances.
A special general meeting had been initiated by 56 disgruntled members, who are seeking the effective ouster of club president Baldev Singh and his deputy Brian Teo.
The Straits Times understands the meeting was triggered by concerns over potential moves to tighten the entry criteria for sports members and review their numbers.
The club has sports and ordinary members. Sports members are those who can play to a prescribed standard in sports like cricket, football and rugby. They pay a fixed annual fee of $2,500, plus a $103 monthly subscription fee. Ordinary members fork out around $20,000, on top of the monthly subscription.
Mr Singh said the issue was about providing for the club's future, not curbing sports activities. In a message to members on Monday, he said: "If no financial prudence is observed, we will all have to live with higher subscription and food cost." There was no intention to compromise support for any of the club's activities, especially sports, he added.
In another message to members, Mr Teo stressed that the club has been, and will remain, a premier sports and social club. He also noted that 743 of the club's 4,407 active members were sports members.
He said the committee had to rein in the club's operating deficit, expected to hit $1.3 million this year. Sports activities, in particular, have contributed to the deficit. There was a need to review the sports membership entry level and restrict entry to deserving and quality sports talent, he said.
Over 90 per cent of new sports members hold foreign passports. Many are over 35 years old and clearly able to afford a transferable membership, he added. He said the club has been dipping into its reserves to settle operating deficits since 2007.
The club used to operate only the Padang Field, but in 2007 it started leasing the Dempsey Field from the Singapore Land Authority.
Mr Teo warned if the trend was not reversed, there would be a serious shortfall of some $8 million needed to meet the Padang and clubhouse lease renewal costs, upon expiry of the current lease in 2026.
He said he doubted that members will agree to bear the average $2,000 to top up the shortfall. It is understood that members have made short shrift of past suggestions to raise monthly subscription fees to solve revenue shortfalls.
Lawyer and former SCC hockey captain R. S. Bajwa, a member for over 40 years, said: "In the past the sports sections have mostly been self-funded. Any cuts to the sports budget, if necessary, should be absorbed sportingly."