Sports Hub CEO on leave following complaint

Singapore Sports Hub chief executive Manu Sawhney was appointed in October 2015. He was previously managing director of ESPN Star Sports.
Singapore Sports Hub chief executive Manu Sawhney was appointed in October 2015. He was previously managing director of ESPN Star Sports.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singapore Sports Hub chief executive Manu Sawhney has taken a leave of absence after a complaint regarding his management style was lodged to the consortium that runs the $1.33 billion facility.

A letter was sent to InfraRed Capital Partners, one of four equity partners in SportsHub Pte Ltd (SHPL), apparently detailing his working style.

One former employee said there had also been conversations with Comcast's human resource department about his leadership style.

American sports and entertainment company Comcast Spectacor group owns Global Spectrum Asia, another of SHPL's equity partners.

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Mr Sawhney, 50, declined to comment when contacted yesterday. It is understood that after news of what happened broke, some of his staff sent him messages of encouragement.

The Sports Hub said yesterday that Mr Sawhney was on leave and its chief operating officer Oon Jin Teik was standing in.

A spokesman said: "The Singapore Sports Hub keeps matters relating to its staff confidential and does not comment on speculation."

Mr Sawhney was appointed in October 2015, replacing Mr Philippe Collin-Delavaud, who was with the consortium since 2011. Mr Sawhney was previously managing director of ESPN Star Sports.

During his tenure, Singapore attracted several high-profile sporting events like the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens and football's International Champions Cup (ICC).

But SHPL has also been hit by a string of departures.

Two months after Mr Sawhney joined, SHPL confirmed that two members of its senior management had "stepped aside". They were Global Spectrum Pico managing director Mark Collins and its director of contracts and compliance Daphne Letournel.

Mr Jason Hrick, who was made acting managing director after Mr Collins' departure, also left SHPL last August.

Speculation of internal strife also surfaced in February last year when there were rumours that SHPL intended to terminate its venue operation contract with Global Spectrum. Both later issued joint statements to reaffirm their partnership.

The latest developments come as the Sports Hub is set to host two-time Fifa World Cup winners Argentina on June 13. In July, it will welcome European football giants Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan for the ICC.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 21, 2017, with the headline 'Sports Hub CEO on leave following complaint'. Print Edition | Subscribe