Football: SPL club Warriors face 107 charges for offences under Employment Act; accused of owing employees over $350,000

 Warriors FC players celebrate after scoring a goal during the Komoco Singapore Cup final at Jalan Besar Stadium on Nov 2, 2019.
Warriors FC players celebrate after scoring a goal during the Komoco Singapore Cup final at Jalan Besar Stadium on Nov 2, 2019.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Troubled Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Warriors FC was charged with 107 counts of not paying its employees their salaries on Thursday (Nov 7).

According to charge sheets, the professional football club failed to make payments amounting to over $350,000 on July 8, Aug 8, Sept 8 and Oct 8 this year. The affected parties include its players, coaching staff, and administrative staff.

A representative for the nine-time league champions will have to return to court on Dec 5 for a further mention of the case.

In response to ST's queries, an MOM spokesman said: "MOM has suspended Warriors Football Club's work pass privileges since May 2019 when we first started investigation into possible breaches of the Employment Act.

"MOM's investigations established that (Warriors) has failed to comply with the Employment Act and we are proceeding to charge the club.

"Under the Employment Act, employers who fail to pay salaries to their employees can be fined up to $15,000 and/or imprisoned up to six months. The penalty can be doubled for repeat offenders."

Despite not being paid for three months, Warriors' players surpassed expectations in the Komoco Motors Singapore Cup, reaching the final on Nov 2 only to lose 4-3 to Tampines Rovers.

Sources told The Straits Times that the $45,000 prize money the club received, was disbursed to them on the condition it is used to rectify some of the salary arrears.

The Straits Times first reported in October last year that Warriors, who are local football's most successful side, had problems paying its staff on time.

As a result, the MOM suspended the club's work pass privileges, barring them from any foreign hires.

While this was lifted after the club made rectifications on the payments owed, late salary payouts continued into this year, leading MOM to reimpose the suspension in May.

 

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) on July 10 then expressed its unease at the goings-on at Warriors, with a spokesman saying: "The FAS is gravely concerned with the manner in which the financial subsidies provided to Warriors have been administered.

"There are serious questions raised over the manner in which (Warriors) have handled its finances, and we are working with (the club) to get to the bottom of this."

The national football body also added then that it had been making payments of the club employees' monthly CPF contributions directly to the CPF Board since March 2019.

On Aug 31, the FAS issued a directive to Warriors to remove its general manager and honorary secretary, Paul Poh, from both appointments with immediate effect. However, it is understood Poh has remained at the club in both capacities since.