Heated exchange over FAS spending

Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson, who is also an FAS council member, presented the FAS financial statement yesterday.
Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson, who is also an FAS council member, presented the FAS financial statement yesterday. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

While the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) was unable to pass its revised constitution yesterday, there was certainly a large dose of drama at its annual general meeting (AGM).

Previous AGMs lasted no more than half an hour, but yesterday's meeting lasted an hour even before its abrupt ending. It started at 11.30am and ended over an hour later after no further questions were taken on the accounts.

FAS honorary treasurer Sarjit Singh, who usually presents the financial statement, was absent. The association said he was away on an urgent trip, and council member S. Thavaneson, who is also a member of FAS' audit committee, handled the presentation instead.

As soon as Thava, who is also Balestier Khalsa's chairman, had finished his presentation, election candidates James Lim, a former People's Association deputy director; and lawyer Alfred Dodwell, who are in an election team managed by ex-Woodlands Wellington general manager R. Vengadasalam; Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra; and Hougang United honorary treasurer Jeffrey Sim started to question him.

The grilling lasted more than half an hour.

Most of their queries revolved around the FAS' total revenue of $35.8 million and why 15 per cent of that sum was paid out as staff and coaches' salaries and another 15 per cent was devoted to the now-defunct LionsXII.

They also asked if more funds would be made available to S-League clubs or to beef up the lower-tiered leagues.

Vice-president Bernard Tan explained to members that the FAS had met the Tote Board, which provides each S-League club $800,000 annually, to ask for increased funding.

But not all were happy with this, with an S-League club official feeling that the grilling was unnecessary. He said: "The financial statements have all been audited externally and it's hard to conduct an AGM when certain members are asking about why funds are disbursed in a certain manner.

"There was a lot of to and fro and it was time-consuming."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 25, 2016, with the headline 'Heated exchange over FAS spending'. Print Edition | Subscribe