Football: Game Changers demand explanation from FAS general secretary Winston Lee over $500,000 donation

Football Association of Singapore general secretary Winston Lee.
Football Association of Singapore general secretary Winston Lee. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - The Game Changers team contesting the upcoming Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election have hit back at claims that their leader, Bill Ng, knew that a hefty donation made by a club he used to run in 2014 was meant for the Asean Football Federation (AFF).

In a strongly worded statement issued on Monday (April 17) evening, the team blasted Winston Lee, insisting that the FAS' general secretary "owes the Singapore footballing fraternity an explanation" over his claim that when Ng donated $500,000 in 2014 from National Football League club Tiong Bahru FC's coffers, the Hougang United chairman knew that the money was intended for the AFF's football management system.

The Game Changers said: "Tiong Bahru FC had, from December 2014 onwards and at the request of Winston Lee to Bill Ng made in person, given donations totalling $500,000 to the FAS by way of various cheque payments.

"We would like to reiterate that all of these cheques were made payable to the FAS.

"Having donated the funds to the FAS, how these funds were then used is something which only the FAS administrators can explain. When Bill Ng agreed to Winston's request for a donation, it was strictly on the basis that the money was to be used to benefit Singapore football, especially our local clubs."

Monday's declaration contradicts the FAS' assertion on Saturday evening, in which it said that it was former FAS president Zainudin Nordin who had requested the donation to the AFF from Ng, and that "Tiong Bahru FC decided to support AFF's initiative directly", with the FAS merely facilitating the request "to assist in sending the donation to AFF".

However, the Game Changers insisted on Monday that Zainudin had not approached Ng for any donation to the AFF.

Besides the claims and counter claims, the revelation of the huge donation has raised eyebrows over how and why money has flowed from an NFL club to an overseas entity when Singapore's grassroots scene has been suffering from neglect and a lack of funding.

The team then urged Lee, the FAS' general secretary since 2008, to explain the following:

1) Did the AFF ask Winston Lee for the funds, or did Winston volunteer the said funds? How many other AFF member associations made such donations to the AFF for the AFF Football Management System?

2) What was the reason for FAS to have made the payment of $500,000 to the AFF? Was it for AFF to develop a system for the FAS to use for the good of Singapore football? Or was it to fund the AFF in its purchase of a system for its own use?

3) The FAS is a charity with Institution of Public Character (IPC) status. The rules make it very clear that any donations made by external parties must have the Board's approval. Why was this not done before the money was channelled to an external entity?

4) Charity and IPC guidelines also state very clearly that donors should receive accurate and ethical advice about the intended use of donations. Did Winston and the FAS do so before channelling the donations out of Singapore?

5) Why did former FAS council members like Lim Kia Tong, S. Thavaneson, Bernard Tan and Edwin Tong (all members of Games Changers' opponents in the FAS election) not know that such a large donation had been received from Tiong Bahru FC, and that the funds were being channelled to the AFF?

6) What is the current state of implementation of the AFF Football Management System; who is implementing this system; what is its total cost; how has it benefited Singapore Football so far?

In response to the Game Changers' allegations, an FAS spokesman said: "We disagree with these baseless allegations and will present the details in due course."

The FAS election will take place on April 29, when the association's 44 affiliates will, for the first time, vote in a new set of leaders.