Football: Business as usual at 3 clubhouses raided by CAD

[…] Patrons going into Tiong Bahru Football Club's clubhouse at People's Park Centre yesterday. [/…]It still has 29 fruit machines after a raid by the Commercial Affairs Department in April.
[…] Patrons going into Tiong Bahru Football Club's clubhouse at People's Park Centre yesterday. [/…]It still has 29 fruit machines after a raid by the Commercial Affairs Department in April.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Jackpot operations resume at the Tiong Bahru, Woodlands and Hougang clubhouses

All three football clubhouses raided by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) nearly two months ago have reopened for business.

A check by The Straits Times yesterday revealed that the clubhouses operated by Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC), Woodlands Wellington and Hougang United are up and running.

On April 20, the CAD raided the three clubhouses linked to Bill Ng, the Hougang and Tiong Bahru chairman who was then a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) presidential candidate. Ng was the lead figure in the failed merger between Woodlands and Hougang.

The raid came after national sports governing body, Sport Singapore, filed a police report over the suspected misuse of funds at TBFC and a purported attempt by a senior club official to obstruct the completion of audits into S-League sit-out clubs. At the centre of the investigation was TBFC's $500,000 donation to the Asean Football Federation through the FAS.

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Ng, Hougang general manager Matthew Tay, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and former FAS general secretary Winston Lee were questioned by the authorities.

Following the raid, the clubhouses suspended their operations.

Yesterday, at TBFC's clubhouse, which is tucked in the corner of the People's Park Centre basement, business was brisk with a steady stream of customers.

Patrons ST spoke to confirmed that the clubhouse reopened a month ago.

It still has 29 fruit machines.

Although TBFC plies its trade in the second-tier National Football League, it made the headlines because its gross income far outweighed its S-League counterparts', raking in a total of S$36.8 million in the last financial year.

Woodlands' clubhouse, located in the bottom unit of a Prinsep Street shophouse, also saw a flurry of activity, but in this instance it was officials instead of patrons.

One man, decked in the uniform of a computer data storage company, was spotted entering and leaving the premises with documents in hand. More unidentified persons decked in office wear, including a Woodlands Wellington representative, stopped by the clubhouse throughout the afternoon.

The representative confirmed that the club had reopened and mentioned that the information pertaining to the reopening would be made public in due time.

A pair of middle-aged female patrons, who declined to be named, reiterated that the clubhouse had reopened without changes and that the jackpot machines were still functioning as before.

Over at Hougang's clubhouse, staff said that crowd levels have been consistent to those before the closure since it resumed operations late last month.

A 46-year-old customer who declined to be named said he was nonchalant about the reopening.

"I live nearby so sometimes I just take $10 to $20 to play (the jackpot machines)," he added.

For one 70-year-old retiree, who has been patronising the clubhouse for the past eight years, the police probe is of little concern to her.

She said: "It doesn't really affect me because I don't gamble much anymore."

Ng and his team, the Game Changers, were beaten at the FAS polls by Team LKT, led by lawyer Lim Kia Tong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'Business as usual post-raid'. Print Edition | Subscribe