$0.5m donation to AFF thru FAS, not to local football?

I refer to the articles “Football: Dispute between Bill Ng and Winston Lee over $850,000 donation to FAS” (Straits Times, Apr 14) and “Football: FAS refutes Bill Ng’s claims, no misuse of donations” (Straits Times, Apr 15).

The former states that “In a fiery press conference to unveil his team’s manifesto, Bill Ng revealed that he had donated $850,000 to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and claimed that he did not know how the money was used.

In response to Ng’s words, FAS general secretary Winston Lee labelled those accusations as “baseless and untrue”.

He added that in total, he had donated about $850,000 to the FAS. On how the money was used, Ng replied: “That is a big question. I’m not in the FAS. The best answer is to call Winston Lee.”

But Lee, the FAS’ general secretary since 2008, replied in a statement after midnight, saying: “In the Team Game Changers’ press conference on Thursday night, their presidential candidate Mr Bill Ng insinuated impropriety on the management of a sum of money he had donated to the FAS over a period of a few years.

“In particular, he invited the media to question FAS on what had happened to the money he had donated and claimed to have no knowledge of where the funds had gone after he donated it. This is a baseless and untrue accusation.

“In 2012, FAS approached various sponsors and donors to support the LionsXII, which would commence its participation in the Malaysian Super League. The sponsors and donors who came on board included Mr Ng, who introduced a company that donated an amount of $200,000 to the LionsXII.

As to “”In 2014, FAS spoke to Mr Ng on the subject of supporting the Asean Football Federation’s (AFF) football management system. Mr Ng supported the project with a donation of $500,000 to AFF through FAS.

“All donations and sponsorships from our partners are recorded and accounted for, and we will take the necessary action against parties who wilfully accuse the Association of improper fund management.”” – I do not seem to be able to find any mention of this $500,000 donation to the Asean Football Federation (AFF) in the FAS’s annual reports (financial report section) for FY2015 and FY2014, covering the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2015.

As this sum of $500,000 is extremely huge, relative to the FAS Group’s (operating) deficit (revenue – expenses) before taxation of $5,445 and $5,453 in FY2015 and FY2014, respectively – instead of just stating “All donations and sponsorships from our partners are recorded and accounted for” (FAS’s first statement) and “Its spokesman moved to offer documentary evidence to prove the point.

“We are transparent in our processes and dealings with our stakeholders, and we are prepared to share the documents relating to this subject with the relevant parties,” he said” (“FAS: We can provide documentary evidence” (New Paper, Apr 15) – can the FAS help to clarify where this donation is reflected in their annual report, and make public the documents recording its receipt and subsequent payment and receipt to the AFF.

This may be a matter of some urgency, given that the elections will be held on 29 April.

With regard to “He had full knowledge of what the donation was for, and that none of it came to the FAS. To reiterate, Mr Ng knew that the money was not being donated to FAS or any Singapore footballing activity, and to claim it was given to FAS is not factual” – I understand that Mr Ng was the chairman of Tiong Bahru FC which gave the donation.

So, did the FAS inform the donor, Tiong Bahru FC in writing that the money was in fact for the AFF?

Also, since the FAS is an Institution of Public Character (IPC) – donations are tax deductible. Did the donor, Tiong Bahru FC get a tax deduction, with full knowledge (according to FAS) that the money was not for local football, but for the AFF?

Why were the donation(s) channeled “through FAS” to the AFF? Was the $500,000 donation (cheque) paid to the FAS?

In this connection, I think football fans may also be wondering – “with questions raised about where the funds of a hugely profitable amateur club were channelled to, and why they did not make moves to invest in local football or join the professional S.League”.

With regard to “”I believe that none of the council (members) knew anything about this,” he (Bill Ng) added” (“‘Baseless and untrue’: FAS rebuts Bill Ng’s comments on S$850,000 donation” (Channel NewsAsia, Apr 14) – I do not seem to be able to find any response to this assertion in the FAS’s first statement or in the various media reports about the FAS’s subsequent second statement (which at the time of my writing this article (10 am, 15 April) – is not on its web site – Press Releases).

As to “The FAS’ second statement also included a quote from the AFF on the football management system.

In it, the AFF spokesman said it is “(an) initiative aimed at enhancing the capabilities of football associations and clubs, which will then better position them to achieve success in key result areas including but not limited to income generation, information technology, corporate governance, and facilities utilisation, among others.”

The spokesman added that the system will be launched “within the next nine to 12 months” and thanked a Singapore NFL club for a $500,000 donation” – is taking more than three years or four years to develop a “football management system” arguably, kind of long?

With regard to “and thanked a Singapore NFL club for a $500,000 donation” – shouldn’t it thank the FAS since it was “a donation of $500,000 to AFF through FAS”? Was the donation paid to the AFF by the FAS or directly to the AFF by Tiong Bahru FC?