Football: Tampines Rovers 'have not overspent', says chairman

While marquee player Jermaine Pennant (centre) and former LionsXII players have added to the club's wage bill, Tampines' cash flow has been hurt by below-expected sponsorship and the cessation of jackpot machines.
While marquee player Jermaine Pennant (centre) and former LionsXII players have added to the club's wage bill, Tampines' cash flow has been hurt by below-expected sponsorship and the cessation of jackpot machines.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Tampines chairman says club seeking help as sponsorship woes create cash-flow problems

From the highs of signing former Liverpool star Jermaine Pennant, S-League club Tampines Rovers have now been brought back down to earth.

Club chairman Krishna Ramachandra admitted yesterday that the title-chasing club are facing a cash-flow issue, brought about, in part, by the new chairman underestimating the challenges.

"The challenges were far greater than originally expected," said Krishna, who took over the club from long-time chairman Teo Hock Seng last November.

"But I expected support. The FAS (Football Association of Singapore) knows I am a new kid on the block. I hope they reciprocate and give support when it is needed."

Krishna confirmed he has asked the FAS for advances on subsidies - but said these were "legitimately due" to the club for meeting benchmarks such as match attendance and running a Centre of Excellence.

SHORT-TERM HELP

The FAS knows I am a new kid on the block. I hope they reciprocate and give support when it is needed.

'' KRISHNA RAMACHANDRA , Tampines chairman, on why is asking the FAS for an advance on subsidies.


I'VE DONE MY PART

No, I won't be coming back to help Tampines. On the record, my answer is no. Off the record, my answer is no.

'' TEO HOCK SENG, the club's former chairman who is believed to have pumped in more than $2 million over 15 years .

He explained that the subsidies are given out monthly, and that he is requesting "a larger proportion to be given out... to at least help in the next few months."

These funds will help cover operating costs, including players' salaries. The Stags' expenses are expected to exceed $2 million this season, compared to around $1.5 million for the average S-League club.

The inflated figure is in part due to the signing of Pennant and eight ex-LionsXII players, all of whom draw higher salaries than the average S-League player.

When asked if the FAS is intending to come to the Stags' aid, an FAS spokesman would only say that "we will always endeavour to support them in their initiatives and alleviate any challenges they may face within the prescribed guidelines and regulatory framework".

While Tampines are seeking financial assistance, Krishna gave his assurance that his players need not worry about going unpaid.

He rejected the notion that he had failed to budget the club expenses appropriately. Instead, he revealed that sponsorship figures fell short of what was expected.

"We were looking to generate new revenue streams... but the reality is we needed to get buy-in from Singapore corporations, and that doesn't occur overnight," he said.

He also clarified that Tampines did not splurge on their recent headline-grabbing moves, such as signing Pennant, landing former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier as an international ambassador and getting approval to stage their AFC Cup game against Selangor at the National Stadium next month.

Krishna said: "The National Stadium (deal) is virtually free, Pennant costs $20,000 a month, not the $50,000 or $60,000 that people reported. Gerard Houllier's free, he's happy to help."

The cash-flow issue arose partly because Tampines has stopped running jackpot machines, which account for a large part of revenue.

In a video interview with Red Card Sports Radio, one of the Stags' partners, Krishna also said that Teo has "called it a day" after "pumping in a lot of cash" into the club. This is on top of the $300,000 sponsorship with Komoco Motors, of which Teo is the managing director.

Asked about the current issues facing his former club, Teo said that as a sponsor, Komoco had fulfilled all its obligations to Tampines. He added that it pumped in more than the original sponsorship amount of $300,000.

Added Teo: "I have handed over the club in a healthy state. Whoever has taken over the club should be grateful for that. The commitments and signings made by the new management has nothing to do with me.

"No, I won't be coming back to help Tampines. On the record, my answer is no. Off the record, my answer is no."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Stags 'have not overspent''. Print Edition | Subscribe