Football Association of Singapore (FAS) vice-president Bernard Tan yesterday defended the organisation's investment in grassroots football and said that spending was substantially more when other factors were taken into consideration.
During last month's annual general meeting, the FAS revealed that total organising expenses for grassroots competitions like the National Football League (NFL), Island Wide League (IWL), FA Cup and Singapore 9s amounted to $112,257, excluding staffing costs.
This was offset by the combined income from the participation fees collected from the clubs, which totalled $41,556.
The NFL clubs and IWL clubs each paid about $1,200 and $850 respectively to take part in their respective leagues and tournaments though the fees will be waived from next year.
That meant a net amount of about $70,000 was spent on grassroots football in the FAS' last financial year (April last year to March this year). The FAS received much flak after this figure was made public during the AGM.
Speaking to the media at the FAS' headquarters at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Tan said: "We organise 161 matches (in NFL and IWL) in total. They're played largely in stadiums, referees are of a higher calibre.
"There is also prize money that is completely footed ($31,000 by the FAS). When you use this as a base comparison to something like the (popular amateur football league) ESPZEN, the support for community football from the FAS into the NFL and IWL is there."
The $70,000 figure was only direct costs, he stressed, and that the FAS invested roughly $250,000 on grassroots football.
This includes stadium bookings (about $200 for a match in the day and $300 when floodlights are needed), hiring referees and manpower costs among other things.
"We use a lot of the other overheads from the FAS to run the leagues. The competitions division that runs the S-League also runs the NFL and IWL. They do spend a considerable amount of time in that section," he added.
"The cost of referees is borne by the FAS. A lot of the overheads that are not allocated out to directly run the leagues are taken elsewhere in the budget...
"If you think about the cost of the stadiums, the referees, cost of people running the competitions and all that kind of stuff, you can never meet $70,000. It's not possible. You can't run these leagues on $70,000.
"So I want to clarify that the numbers we are talking about is substantially more."