Every dollar counts when you are an aspiring young footballer trying to earn your keep, and local players expressed relief that steps were being taken to reimburse them for their services to their clubs.
The Straits Times reported yesterday that the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board is investigating S-League clubs for neglecting to make employer contributions to their Prime League teams.
This was due to the wrongly-held assumption by the local clubs that the stipends given to these players - for meals and transport costs - did not constitute a salary and therefore the clubs were not required to pay CPF monies.
The CPF Board's website however, lists meal, laundry and transport allowances as CPF payable.
Prime League players, who were on employment contracts, are usually paid between $100 and $300 monthly. Kavin Kumar, 19, spent last season with Hougang United and received $200 a month.
The salary paid that triggers an employer's contribution to the worker's Central Provident Fund.
He said: "It might be a small amount but it's good that this issue was highlighted and we are getting paid what we should have gotten."
According to the CPF Board, if an employee's (aged 55 and below) monthly total wage is $50 or less, no CPF contribution is required.
Above that amount, the employer must pay 17 per cent of the total wage; defined as ordinary plus additional wage. That means Hougang has to contribute $34 monthly during Kumar's season with them, or $408 in total for the year.
The Prime League teams are the reserve sides of professional S-League clubs, largely featuring young players below 21. There are six local S-League clubs, excluding the Young Lions.
Former Geylang International defender Wyldan Wisam, 23, played for the Eagles for three years and is serving his national service. He said: "This is news to me but I'll definitely go speak to the club to find out what's being done to put the money back into my CPF account."
Chartered accountant and KYC Group's founder Vivienne Chiang said: "It doesn't matter what the allowance is used for. As long as it is above the minimum amount (less than or equal to $50 a month), it is liable for CPF. Allowance is commonly given as a package with salary. Whether classifying it as allowance or salary does not change the need to contribute to CPF."
ST understands that this issue of non-payment of CPF monies for allowances has been raised only with S-League football clubs because the players are on contracts. S-League clubs typically operate on annual budgets of between $1.2 million and $1.5 million, of which $800,000 comes from Tote Board subsidies.
According to CPF Board's website, when CPF contributions are not paid correctly or promptly, repercussions for the employers include incurring a composition amount up to $1,000 per offence upon payment of all outstanding arrears of CPF contributions and interest. Upon further delay, they could be summoned to court and face fines and/or imprisonment.