Football: New FAS council must provide report on donations, says Sport Singapore

At the unveiling of his team's manifesto, Hougang United chairman Bill Ng claimed he had donated about $850,000 to the FAS but was not sure how the money was spent.
At the unveiling of his team's manifesto, Hougang United chairman Bill Ng claimed he had donated about $850,000 to the FAS but was not sure how the money was spent. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Local sports governing body Sport Singapore has weighed in on the developing donations saga involving the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, who is leading a team to contest the April 29 FAS elections.

A SportSG spokesman said on Sunday (April 16): "As the sports sector charity administrator, Sport Singapore will require the new council to provide a complete and satisfactory report on the management of these matters."

Last Thursday, at the unveiling of his team's manifesto, Ng claimed he had donated about $850,000 to the FAS but was not sure how the money was spent.

The FAS then clarified that only $715,000 worth of donations it received could be linked with Ng.

An FAS spokesman detailed how the money was spent and said the FAS would take action against "parties who wilfully accuse the association of improper fund management".

SportSG's desire for the new FAS council to clean up the association's books appear to be reinforced by an ongoing investigation into the management of former S-League club Woodlands Wellington's jackpot revenue.

In the same statement, SportSG said it had asked the FAS to conduct the investigation after receiving complaints from the public about the proposed merger between Hougang and Woodlands and how the latter's assets, such as its jackpot machines, were being apportioned.

Fans of Woodlands, who lodged the complaints, also questioned the legality of the merger.

Proposed in 2014, the merger was eventually called off in 2016 with the FAS calling it "not feasible for implementation".

At his manifesto unveiling, Ng was asked about his involvement with Woodlands. A director of a private equity firm, he said: "Eventually the merger failed. I then returned Woodlands back to the FA. I have nothing to do with Woodlands right now."

It was at the same event on Thursday where Ng claimed he had donated about $850,000 to the FAS but was not sure how the money was spent. He told those present to "call (FAS general secretary) Winston Lee" to find out what happened to the money.

Lee clarified that only $715,000 worth of donations the FAS received could be linked with Ng. Lee said $200,000 came from a sponsor that Ng introduced to the FAS in 2012 and went to the now-defunct LionsXII while $15,000 was raised when Ng supported the FAS via its charity golf day.

A further $500,000 came in 2014 from National Football League club Tiong Bahru FC, which Ng had taken over in 2005. This went to the Asean Football Federation's (AFF) football management system and Lee emphasised that Ng knew this.

The FAS later told ST that former president Zainudin Nordin had asked Ng to donate to the AFF.

Former FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong, who is also leading a team at the elections, yesterday sought to distance himself and his team from Zainudin's actions.

Lim, whose nine-member slate comprises former FAS vice-presidents Edwin Tong and Bernard Tan, said Zainudin did not mention the $500,000 donation in any FAS council meetings and called on the FAS "to be fully transparent on this AFF transaction".

He added: "We are also concerned about Mr Ng's assertion that he did not know how the money was used. If a donation has been made by a football club, let alone such a large one like this, and the club apparently has no idea where the money has gone to, then the first thing it must do is to ask."

Limalso pressed Ng to explain the circumstances behind the donation. He said: "As Mr Ng is vying for the top post in football in Singapore, in the interests of transparency and openness, we call on him to not only answer these questions but also to open, for public viewing, the accounts of Hougang and Tiong Bahru to allay public concerns."