The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has revealed that it was former president Zainudin Nordin who had asked Hougang United chairman Bill Ng to make donations towards developing Asean Football Federation's (AFF) Football Management System.
Little is known about the system - whether it is a software, a physical hardware or an office tasked to promote the game in the region.
FAS and AFF spokesmen would only describe it as "conceived by the AFF with the goal of raising the capabilities and capacities of the member associations and clubs in various aspects of football management".
These aspects include income generation, information technology, corporate governance and facilities utilisation.
And it is dominating talk as the April 29 FAS election nears.
Ng - who is also chairman of National Football League (NFL) club Tiong Bahru FC - is challenging for the president's post with his Team Game Changers. His team is up against Team LKT, headed by former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong.
It was during 57-year-old Ng's unveiling of his manifesto on Friday that he dropped the bombshell of making donations to AFF in 2014, which amounted to $500,000.
An FAS spokesman said yesterday: "The then-FAS president Zainudin Nordin was of the view that the (Football Management System) programme would also be beneficial to Singapore football.
"As the FAS budget was not able to financially support the AFF on this initiative, he approached Mr Bill Ng and asked if he would be keen to assist the AFF.
"Tiong Bahru FC studied the proposal and was of the view that stakeholders in football, including players, coaches, volunteers, parents and administrators, would benefit from the AFF Football Management System.
"Following this, Tiong Bahru FC decided to support AFF's initiative directly, and offered a $500,000 donation to AFF."
The FAS, however, did not reply to The Sunday Times' queries why it did not use Tiong Bahru's funds to promote local football and instead, allowed the money to be pumped into AFF. Zainudin could not be reached by press time.
At last year's FAS annual general meeting, it was initially revealed in its statement of accounts that $70,000 was spent on the grassroots. The amount was later clarified as $250,000.
The local grassroots football fraternity is upset with the revelation of the huge donation abroad, when the money could have been used to help the dire Singapore football scene.
Said an S-League club official, who declined to be named: "Why is such a huge amount of money flowing out of Singapore to help the AFF? And how can the S-League benefit from it?"
An NFL official added: "For the sake of transparency, the NFL clubs deserve to know what this football management system is. What does it look like?
"The NFL has been struggling to raise funds. So it is disturbing to learn that $500,000 was raised by an NFL club and pumped overseas.
"Also, the amount donated was huge and there was no fanfare or publicity. Shouldn't Tiong Bahru or the AFF have made a big announcement?"
The Sunday Times understands that FAS general secretary Winston Lee will present documents tomorrow to Lim to explain the donation and the Football Management System.