Football: NFL Div 1 club Bishan Barx file protest after walkover condemns them to the drop

Yishun Sentek Mariners FC players and staff celebrating their NFL Division One 2017 title win after a walkover victory over Katong FC.
Yishun Sentek Mariners FC players and staff celebrating their NFL Division One 2017 title win after a walkover victory over Katong FC.PHOTO: FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Bishan file protest as result sealed relegation; FAS is determining the next course of action

They lost the game 3-0 but walked away big winners too.

That is the good fortune Katong FC have enjoyed despite conceding a walkover to Yishun Sentek Mariners in the teams' final match of the National Football League (NFL) Division One season last Wednesday.

Yishun collected the three points required to win the title without kicking a ball as Katong were unable to field the minimum seven players to start the game.

But the 3-0 default result meant Katong avoided a potential defeat by four goals or more that could have seen them relegated on goal difference. In the end, Bishan Barx, who were tied on 21 points, went down as Katong's goal difference was one better at -24.

The bottom two sides in the 12-team league are demoted to Division Two. Singapore Cricket Club, with 11 points, had been relegated earlier.

Aggrieved, Bishan sent a letter of protest to the NFL competitions committee a day later.

AGAINST FOOTBALLING ETHOS

For a team, Katong FC, to declare a walkover is simply against the idea of sportsmanship and fair play. It had brought the NFL and the game of football to disrepute.

HARDI JANI, Bishan Barx president, hitting out at Katong FC's walkover which ultimately led to his club going down on goal difference.

In a copy obtained by The Straits Times, Bishan president Hardi Jani wrote: "For a team, Katong FC, to declare a walkover is simply against the idea of sportsmanship and fair play. It had brought the NFL and the game of football to disrepute...

"Katong Football Club was given an ample time of two weeks' notice prior to the rescheduled fixture against Yishun Sentek Mariners Football Club and I do not think there is a reason for a no-show.

"Do both clubs have an equal and fair chance of securing their respective spots in the NFL top division? Yes. Is it fair that a team will sought to (sic) unsportsmanlike behaviour of a walkover to save their skins? No."

Hardi also alleged that there had been previous walkovers and expressed unhappiness that there had been "no further cause of actions and punishments to stamp out this unhealthy habit".

He also remained hopeful that a disciplinary committee could decide on an appropriate course of action.

RESOLUTION BEING SOUGHT

The matter has been referred to the Football Association of Singapore Competitions Committee who will be determining the next course of action.

An FAS spokesman confirming the football body is seeking to resolve the issue.

Katong FC official Andy Tan had earlier told ST that they had informed the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) "that if fixtures spill over into December, we will have trouble getting players down" as most of them are in university while others were already on their holidays.

The match had been postponed from Nov 15 to last Wednesday because of the Nov 12 brawl between Yishun and Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association (Safsa) in another match.

The FAS had suspended the fixtures of both teams in the aftermath of the brawl but allowed them to resume playing from the week of Nov 25.

Yesterday, Tan would say only: "We have proof of our unavailability of our players, which we have already sent to the FAS."

A local football official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, felt that a play-off between the affected teams could be a fairer option.

He said: "This is an amateur competition and there was a postponement due to the unforeseen brawl. Katong players could legitimately have university exams or booked overseas trips in advance.

"To punish them for the postponement which was not of their doing would be harsh.

"Bishan also have every reason to feel hard done by because an understrengthed Katong could have been soundly beaten by Yishun and be relegated instead of them.

"The FAS should investigate this matter thoroughly and if both teams are agreeable, they can organise a relegation play-off."

In response to queries, an FAS spokesman said the matter "has been referred to the Football Association of Singapore Competitions Committee who will be determining the next course of action.

"In previous cases of walkovers in the 2017 NFL season, the Competitions Committee has imposed on clubs fines of $500 in the instance of a first walkover, and $1,000 for repeat incidents."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'Consternation over walkover'. Print Edition | Subscribe