Football: Clubs should pump jackpot profits back into sport, say Team LKT

Team LKT members S. Thavaneson, Lim Kia Tong and Bernard Tan attend a media briefing ahead of FAS election, on April 24, 2017.
Team LKT members S. Thavaneson, Lim Kia Tong and Bernard Tan attend a media briefing ahead of FAS election, on April 24, 2017.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - The issue of football clubs - including those sitting out the S-League - running jackpot operations has been a talking point in the run-up to the April 29 Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.

And if elected, Team LKT wants to put measures in place to ensure that these clubs pump some of the profits back into the local game.

This was revealed by Lim Kia Tong, the presidential hopeful who is leading the team, former FAS vice-president Bernard Tan and Balestier Khalsa chairman S. Thavaneson, at a media briefing on Monday (April 24) at Komoco Motors.

The role of jackpot machines in football has been in the spotlight in the last week. This followed media reports that National Football League club Tiong Bahru FC's revenue in 2015/2016 was $36.8 million. A police report was lodged about the suspected misuse of club funds at Tiong Bahru and an attempt to obstruct audits into clubs. The action was followed by raids on three clubhouses - including Tiong Bahru's - and the FAS office on Thursday evening.

At the conference, Tan said: "What we can do is to make affiliation (to FAS) requirements more transparent.

"If they have jackpot operations, they should spend a certain percentage (of their profits) on football."

Thavaneson added: "The S-League clubs receive substantial funding from the Tote Board, which disburses public funds. That's why S-League clubs have a high degree of accountability (for the money it receives).

"The NFL clubs are on their own. But if they derive substantial income, the money should be ploughed back into football."

Lim clarified that the regulation of jackpot operations is done by the Registry of Societies, not the FAS.

He said: "This is a misconception (that the FAS governs the jackpots in clubhouses). The FAS is not the regulatory body. It has only one hold on Tiong Bahru and that is (football) competitions. It doesn't have the right to audit or dictate (terms) to the clubs. The FAS has no power in this."

Thavaneson also explained that some of these clubs need to run jackpot operations to pay off debts.

He explained: "Before we pass judgement on clubs of that nature, I must say that some of them had debts. I know of one club that ran into debts of millions after building a large clubhouse. It took them many years to settle the amount."

Thavaneson declined to name the team but Sinchi FC, a team made of up of Chinese nationals that played in the S-League from 2003 to 2005, still has a clubhouse at Sultan Plaza. In a 2012 interview, Sinchi vice-chairman Wang Jinhui said that the club still owed $200,000 then.