The campaigning period unmasked the fractures within the local football fraternity and strained relations between the two teams contesting the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) election.
But Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, leader of the losing Game Changers, took the first step towards reconciliation yesterday when he congratulated Team LKT and offered his backing for Singapore football's new leaders.
Asked if he would support the new leaders, he smiled and said: "Definitely. They deserve (to win) and we respect the result. They are the best 11 and the best 11 wins. (But) we can't play with 11 guys, we need a lot of reserves. So we play (the role of the) 12th man. We will play the supporting role.
"The first thing is Singapore football needs to get reunited. That is the key message."
The campaign started well for the Game Changers as they leveraged their moniker and promised to shake up the status quo. But Mr Ng's revelation of a $500,000 donation he had made to the Asean Football Federation as Tiong Bahru chairman in 2014 triggered a series of claims and counter-claims between him and the FAS.
It is critical that the new FAS leadership prioritise the review of its internal governance structures and processes, to implement a more robust system going forward.
MINISTER FOR CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH GRACE FU
MAINTAIN HIGH STANDARDS
As a registered charity and Institution of a Public Character, the FAS must maintain a high standard of regulatory compliance and best practice. Future public funding support will very much depend on this.
SPORT SINGAPORE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER LIM TECK YIN
REAL WORK BEGINS NOW
The real work starts now and my team and I promise that we will work tirelessly to heal Singapore football and bring back the glory days.
MR LIM KIA TONG, newly elected FAS president
WE ARE THE 12TH MAN
They are the best 11 and the best 11 wins. We can't play with 11 guys, we need a lot of reserves. So we play the role of the 12th man. We will play the supporting role. ''
MR BILL NG, Game Changers' leader
It also prompted Sport Singapore to lodge a police report against Tiong Bahru and led to the arrest of Mr Ng, his wife Bonnie Wong, former FAS president Zainudin Nordin and FAS general secretary Winston Lee.
Mr Ng told The Sunday Times he did not think the investigations played a part in his team's loss. "These are two separate issues," he said. His team won a total of 13 votes from affiliates. Members of his slate had direct links with seven affiliates, which meant his team won only six extra votes.
But some affiliates disagreed that the investigations played no part in the outcome.Mr Paul Poh, general manager of S-League club Warriors FC, said: "I think he had a good chance if the saga didn't happen. Because of this, people start to wonder if it's safe to hand over to him."
Mr Ronnie Chua, the Singapore Recreation Club games control board chairman, added: "The Game Changers are embroiled in money matters and I think it could have hampered them when they were seeking election. We were a bit uncomfortable."
While Mr Ng contained his disappointment, some members of his team were stung by the loss.
At the team's post-election meal, former national goalkeeper Shahri Rahim was visibly upset with the result. He declined to speak to the media but was overheard telling a colleague: "I should have tried harder."
Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra, one of the team's candidates for vice-president, said: "I'm slightly disappointed but, at the same time, I'm glad the affiliates had a chance to vote freely. I've always maintained that this election creates the necessary fillip for transformation, and we're definitely going to see some changes. I hope that everyone reconciles their differences and pushes forward as a team."
•Additional reporting by Alvin Chia