As if things could not get worse for the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), it was revealed yesterday that it would no longer have direct access to its multimillion-dollar funding from the Tote Board.
The Board, which is believed to fund the governing body of local football to the tune of $25 million annually, is now handing the sum to Sport Singapore (SportSG) to administer, thus ending a decades-long practice. The Tote Board's move allows it to streamline its practice, as other national sports associations (NSAs) also receive their funds via SportSG.
In a reply to a media query, SportSG's director of NSA partnership Lenard Pattiselanno said: "Sport Singapore is pleased that Tote Board will continue to support the Football Association of Singapore in their delivery of the strategic plan for football in the coming financial year.
"In line with our usual practice of managing funds for all NSAs, we will administer and oversee Tote Board's grants allocated for football development as part of overall government funding for football."
The FAS said: "We have been in discussion with SportSG, and we will notify the (S-League) clubs officially of the subsidy."
The Straits Times understands that the funding from the Tote Board will be disbursed by SportSG in two tranches in the new financial year starting in April.
Subsidies to the six local S-League clubs will be dependent on the clubs hitting certain targets such as fund-raising activities, outreach activities, match attendance and fan club membership.
S-League clubs typically operate on annual budgets of $1.2 million to $1.5 million, of which $800,000 come from Tote Board subsidies.
Hougang United head coach Philippe Aw has welcomed the change and hopes it will herald more stability in the club scene.
He said: "It's good that SportSG is managing the funds as it has a better overview of everything.
"For many years, the clubs lived on a short-term basis, one season at a time, and it's hard to build for the future. Maybe this move will help in longer-term planning."
A club chairman, who declined to be named, added: "Given the poor operating process and low transparency in FAS for many years, this is an excellent and correct step."
The move comes in the wake of an abysmal 12 months for the local game. In November, the Lions crashed out of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup following their worst performance in the tournament (one draw and two defeats). The various national age-group teams have also suffered a catalogue of losses.
Mr Lim Chin, chief executive of the S-League, will step down when his contract expires at the end of March, with the competition itself in the doldrums.
There is also uncertainty surrounding the FAS' leadership as the association has to hold its first election in over three decades for a new set of office bearers following key amendments to its Constitution.