No fallout from sponsors despite raids

Commercial Affairs Department personnel entering the FAS office during a raid.
Commercial Affairs Department personnel entering the FAS office during a raid. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Commercial partners remain steadfast in face of bad news, supporting football community

Despite the bad news that has battered local football and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) in recent weeks, most of its commercial partners appear keen on riding out the storm.

While the saga has raised questions about accountability and management of funds, Alfred Toh, general manager of Teamwork Sports LLP, which supplies the S-League with Mitre footballs, said: "We cannot let things like this hamper the growth of football.

"I don't see Mitre pulling out when the chips are down. We will work with the new council."

Long-time sponsor Great Eastern, which has co-sponsored the S-League since 2009, also pledged its support.

Its head of group communications Tan Seck Geok said: "Our reason for co-sponsoring the S-League has not changed - which is to support Singapore football. We intend to meet the FAS council after the election to hear their plans for the league moving forward."

FAN'S VIEW: HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Singapore football has been at a low point for years but the current circumstances have caused it to sink even lower. This election gives local fans something to look forward to... they can expect some kind of change.

THOMAS HOON , Singapore football fan.


SPONSOR'S VIEW: ONGOING SUPPORT

We cannot let things like this hamper the growth of football. I don't see Mitre pulling out when the chips are down. We will work with the new council.

ALFRED TOH, general manager of Teamwork Sports LLP, which supplies the S-League with Mitre footballs.


ANALYST'S VIEW: BRAND INTACT FOR NOW

The FAS brand is still intact at the moment as we wait to see who will hold their heads high (after the investigation). We have to wait and see if the new (FAS elected council) can make a difference.

SONG SENG WUN , CIMB economist.

On April 20, Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) officers raided the FAS office, as well as the clubhouses of Hougang United, Tiong Bahru FC and Woodlands Wellington.

The raids came after national sports agency Sport Singapore filed a police report into a suspected misuse of club funds at Tiong Bahru and a purported attempt by a Tiong Bahru official to delay the audit into S-League sit-out clubs.

But while the FAS' partners look to be standing by the association, the recent turn of events, which includes a spat over a $500,000 donation, has shaken the confidence among fans, many of whom have questioned the lax governance within the organisation.

Manager Tan Yu Ming, 46, said: "There wasn't any form of checks and balances regarding the donation. It does put a question mark on the FAS management."

Added 45-year-old chef Bruno Gillet: "The reputations of local football and the FAS have been tarnished.

"This might be a one-off scandal but it shows as a whole that the FAS doesn't put in enough effort to remain transparent."

Some supporters are holding out hope that tomorrow's landmark election, the first in the FAS' history, will usher in a new era and address the issues which have come to light in recent weeks.

Thomas Hoon, who is self-employed, said: "Singapore football has been at a low point for years but the current circumstances have caused it to sink even lower.

"At least this election gives local fans something to look forward to, in the sense that they can expect some kind of change."

This attitude was also echoed by Lionel Quek, operations manager at Field Catering & Supplies, distributor of the S-League's official drinking water Polar. He said: "We have been supporting the FAS and S-League for the past 15 years and we will continue to do so.

"We don't know the finer details of it (the CAD investigation) and we just want to carry on our duty of contributing to Singapore football."

The image of Singapore football may have taken a hit but it will survive, said CIMB economist Song Seng Wun, though he added much will depend on the outcome of the investigations.

"The FAS brand is still intact at the moment as we wait to see who will hold their heads high (after the investigations)," he noted.

"We just have to wait and see if the new team (FAS elected council) can make a difference."

•Additional reporting by Ian Kiew, Ho Cai Jun and Zhao Jiayi

 

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 28, 2017, with the headline 'No fallout from sponsors despite raids'. Print Edition | Subscribe