Football: Subsidy among key issues

LionsXII players and fans watching a video clip after the Malaysia Cup quarter final, second leg match against Pahang.
LionsXII players and fans watching a video clip after the Malaysia Cup quarter final, second leg match against Pahang. PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

Delayed FAS AGM to discuss local football's direction and progress on changes to charter

The future of Singapore football will be among the main themes discussed when members of the fraternity meet for the Football Association of Singapore's (FAS') annual general meeting (AGM) tomorrow.

Apart from the routine revision of accounts and recap of FAS-organised activities held over the year, it is believed the meeting will cover, among other topics, the recent influx of LionsXII players into the domestic S-League following their exit from the Malaysian scene.

It is believed some clubs want a greater amount in cash subsidies from the FAS to cover the costs of signing LionsXII players, many of whom earn more than the average S-League player. Key LionsXII players earn upwards of $6,000 a month, while S-League players take home a more modest $3,500.

Currently, clubs get a $130,000 annual subsidy - intended to help them defray the costs of signing Fandi Ahmad's men - only if they sign at least three of these players. It is believed some clubs who have met this criteria will also ask for further subsidies.

A club official, who declined to be named, said: "Initially the FAS were willing to match the players' salaries for another year. Since it seems like they had budgeted for it, maybe they can subsidise the clubs more, because the LionsXII players' pay packages are quite high."

DRUMMING UP SUPPORT

The FAS did a wonderful job promoting the LionsXII. I have every confidence they can do a better job for the S-League using similar marketing strategies.

KOH MUI TEE, Albirex Niigata general manager, on his hope that the FAS will do more to help the S-League

Besides salaries, there are also question marks surrounding the players' long-term future, with the Asean Super League expected to start in 2017. The FAS had initially hoped to keep the team intact to prepare for the regional competition.

The S-League's dwindling attendance figures are another cause for concern. With the LionsXII players now in the fray, it is hoped more can be done to boost the 20-year-old competition.

Albirex Niigata general manager Koh Mui Tee said: "The FAS did a wonderful job promoting the LionsXII. I have every confidence they can do a better job for the S-League using similar marketing strategies."

Another pressing issue is the amendment of the FAS' constitution to bring it in line with world governing body Fifa's statutes and in turn, allow the FAS' election of office bearers to take place.

The election had been scheduled to take place on Sept 30. At the time, however, the FAS said it had been advised by Fifa to delay changing its office bearers until the constitution was amended, leading to the postponement of the AGM.

Fifa requires member associations "to... ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties" such as governments or sponsors.

But the FAS' constitution states that "all council members shall be appointed by the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (now called the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) - including the president - and shall, unless otherwise decided by the Minister, hold office for a period of two years".

The Straits Times understands that the FAS has met Fifa twice since, with a third meeting scheduled next month. The topics discussed have included what constitutes a candidate's suitability to stand for office.

Fifa takes a serious view of government interference in football-related issues. In May, it suspended the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) for the "effective takeover of the activities of PSSI by the Indonesian authorities".

The current FAS president, appointed in 2009, is former Bishan- Toa Payoh GRC MP Zainudin Nordin, 52. His four vice-presidents are Tan Soo Nan, Lim Kia Tong, Bernard Tan and Edwin Tong, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC. The current FAS council was appointed on Oct 1, 2013.

Those attending the AGM will be updated on the progress of these amendments, which will be finalised by March. The open elections are likely to be held by June.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'Subsidy among key issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe