Football: Sweeping changes as FAS' Winston Lee may move on

FAS' general secretary Winston Lee is likely to call it a day after nine years at the top, regardless of the outcome of the April 29 election.
FAS' general secretary Winston Lee is likely to call it a day after nine years at the top, regardless of the outcome of the April 29 election.TNP FILE PHOTO

General secretary set to quit, irrespective of election outcome, to consider pastures new

After almost a decade as general secretary of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), Winston Lee looks set to step down.

With the fraternity gearing up for a watershed election on April 29 which will see a new set of leaders installed, Lee is believed to be ready to move on as the sport enters a new phase.

He could not be reached for comment but sources have told The Straits Times that the official, who was appointed to the post in 2008, is likely to resign regardless of who wins the election.

FAS provisional council president Lim Kia Tong is leading a slate of nine and will field another six individual candidates for the polls while Hougang United chairman Bill Ng will also field a slate.

But regardless of which party wins the polls, Lee is set to leave his job. Sources have told ST that the 52-year-old is wanted by a sports marketing firm in China.

The administrator, who has a business degree from the National University of Singapore and also earned an MBA in marketing from the University of Iowa, joined the FAS in 1999 as its director of marketing and communication.

Since then, he has enjoyed a steady rise to the top at Jalan Besar, earning a string of high-profile appointments and international praise along the way.

In 2004, Fifa made him a marketing instructor, which has seen him conduct seminars in Oceania, Africa and across Asia.

A year later, he became the chief executive officer of the S-League.

In 2008, he was named the FAS general secretary, succeeding Steven Yeo, but continued to wear the S-League CEO hat until 2011.

Unlike council members, who are all volunteers, the general secretary is the association's top employee, responsible for its day-to-day running.

Two years ago, Lee was appointed one of the five vice-presidents of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). He received high praise from AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who said: "Winston is a strategist and a highly-regarded administrator who commands great respect in the global football community."

As general secretary, one of the successes of Lee's nine-year tenure was the national team's Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup triumph in 2012.

With the FAS sending a developmental team to compete across the Causeway, the LionsXII lifted the Malaysia Super League title in 2013 and the Malaysian FA Cup in 2015.

But Lee and the sport's top management, former president Zainudin Nordin and S-League CEO Lim Chin, also received flak for the sport's current travails.

The Lions tumbled out of November's AFF Cup after three dismal matches that yielded one draw and two defeats. The decision to focus on the LionsXII also led to the S-League being neglected as crowds remained sparse and its clubs struggling in continental competitions.

In 2015, the Under-23s were booted out of the SEA Games on home soil amid stories of in-fighting among the coaching staff.

Zainudin, a former member of parliament who was appointed vice-principal of Institute of Technical Education (College East) last month, left the FAS in November after his term expired.

He had been at the helm since 2009 and is now the last politically-appointed president of the FAS following a change in the association's constitution.

Lim resigned in January and will serve out his notice next Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Sweeping changes as FAS' Lee may move on'. Print Edition | Subscribe