FAS orders Warriors FC To remove GM

Warriors FC players training at Jurong East Stadium yesterday for their game against defending champions Albirex today. The FAS says club GM Paul Poh should vacate his post.
Warriors FC players training at Jurong East Stadium yesterday for their game against defending champions Albirex today. The FAS says club GM Paul Poh should vacate his post.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Warriors FC players training at Jurong East Stadium yesterday for their game against defending champions Albirex today. The FAS says club GM Paul Poh (above) should vacate his post.
Warriors FC players training at Jurong East Stadium yesterday for their game against defending champions Albirex today. The FAS says club GM Paul Poh (above) should vacate his post.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Action owing to discovery of serious and repeated lapses SPL club has failed to address

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has directed a professional club to relieve one of its key appointment holders.

The national body said yesterday it had instructed record nine-time Singapore Premier League (SPL) champions Warriors FC to remove its general manager and honorary secretary, Paul Poh, from both appointments with immediate effect.

FAS said the order was due to its "discovery of serious and repeated lapses which (Warriors) has failed to take steps to rectify, and also having regard to the best interests of the players and staff at (the club)".

This is understood to be the first time the FAS has issued such a directive to a club, since the S-League (renamed the SPL last year) was formed in 1996.

It comes during a period of turmoil at the once-proud club, which has struggled to pay its staff on time on a number of occasions over the past 14 months. This has led to a Ministry of Manpower investigation, and two subsequent bans on foreign hires.

When contacted, however, Poh said he had not resigned from the club and did not have any comment to make, other than that he was "waiting for instructions".

As general manager, Poh, who joined the Warriors in 2016 and had previously worked in the casino gaming and leisure sector, oversees day-to-day club operations.

Warriors chairman Philip Lam Tin Sing, who is listed on finance resources online as the president commissioner of an Indonesian-based company, is said to have a hands-off approach to running the club.

In its statement yesterday, the FAS also revealed it discovered in March that Warriors had been unable to pay staff and players' monthly Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions since January and "there is an obligation in law to do so, and this failure is presently being looked into".

As a result of its findings, the FAS has retained the subsidies meant for Warriors to make the CPF payments directly and has also undertaken the payment of the salaries of the club's Centre of Excellence staff since June.

It also found "serious discrepancies" in Warriors' claims for subsidies for fitness coaches' salaries, and that the club had not submitted monthly management accounts since April. It also noted Warriors has also failed to submit its 2018 audited financial report.

"Given the totality of the above matters, and from the findings of our preliminary investigations, the FAS is of the view that Paul Poh should vacate his positions with immediate effect," it said.

The FAS said it would assist Warriors in the interim, including the possibility of seconding an FAS staff member to manage the club administration till the end of the ongoing season, which ends on Sept 29.

It also plans to assist with the club's field bookings, so that the team is able to focus on preparing for its remaining five matches.

In July, ST had reported the FAS was "gravely concerned" by the way funds, which it disburses to all six local SPL clubs, are managed at Warriors.

Each club receives a little over $1 million in subsidies a year from the FAS for salaries of staff like the general manager, coaches and foreign players. About a fifth of this is not disbursed to the clubs as they comprise insurance and facilities subsidies which the FAS underwrites.

Warriors, known as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club (SAFFC) from 1996-2013, came under the purview of the Ministry of Defence until January 2017.

As SAFFC, it won eight S-League titles in the first 14 seasons. In the past nine seasons, it has won just one title, in 2014.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2019, with the headline 'FAS orders Warriors FC To remove GM'. Print Edition | Subscribe