Forum: Pay attention to financial governance of football clubs

Warriors FC players celebrating after a goal during a match.
Warriors FC players celebrating after a goal during a match.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

It is distressing to read about former Singapore Premier League champions Warriors FC's current state of affairs (Warriors shun sit out call, Dec 31, 2019).

The illustrious, 134-year history of two-time English FA Cup winners Bury Football Club (Bury FC) came to an end last year as a result of concerns over financial governance. Staff, players and creditors were not paid, and the football club was eventually booted out of the English Football League (EFL) as it was unable to prove that it could continue as a financially viable football club.

In the aftermath of Bury FC's demise, a parliamentary inquiry was conducted into the Football Association and EFL's financial governance of football clubs.

The inquiry's findings included key takeaways, such as permitting requests for government intervention if the absence of satisfactory financial governance reforms in a football club persists, and the creation of a supporters' ombudsman to manage any financial governance concerns in the football club.

These key takeaways could be worth exploring in the context of Singapore football as well.

For instance, it is quite telling that less than two years after the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) ceded control of Warriors FC, the football club's financial troubles started. Warriors FC could potentially be a candidate for calibrated government intervention until the football club has been sufficiently nursed back to financial health, possibly under the purview of Warrior FC's previous manager, Mindef.

Warriors FC's supporters could also be galvanised to form an ombudsman that provides oversight on the football club's financial governance matters.

As a new year begins, it is imperative that financial governance continues to be at the heart of the ongoing conversations on elevating Singapore football to greater heights.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2020, with the headline 'Pay attention to financial governance of football clubs'. Print Edition | Subscribe