Source : FAS.

Inactive football clubs to close unless they rejoin S-League, or give up their cash machines

by Ten Leu-Jiun and Leong Sze Hian

We refer to the article “Football: FAS going after inactive clubs with jackpot rooms” (Straits Times, Jun 25).

It states that: “The new Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council has given the four inactive S-League clubs that operate jackpot rooms an ultimatum – either return to playing in the S-League, or be de-affiliated and give up their cash machines.”

According to the write up, the move to ban inactive clubs from running jackpot rooms is part of plans by an FAS committee, headed by Mr Teo and Mr Thavaneson, to revamp the S-League into a more viable and exciting competition. Other moves by the new committee include introducing promotion and relegation, and instilling financial prudence among the clubs.

When contacted by ST, some of the sit-out clubs claimed they were keen to return to the S-League, which currently has nine teams, but some were worried over whether they had the funds to run a professional team, as that had been the main reason for their sitting out.

Gombak United chairman John Yap who is keen for his club to play in the S-League again but was quoted saying, “We want to hear from the FAS what are the requirements for us to return, as we have no idea how much funding is needed to return to professional football.”

FAS council members will meet Sport Singapore in August to find out how much funding they will receive for the next financial year.

The FAS should not take such a draconian measure, without seeking feedback and consultation with the football fraternity.

The primary reason why there are clubs without teams is funding.

Until such a time when the issue of funding for football in Singapore has gone through a comprehensive review – this decision should be held in abeyance.

A football club is not only about having a current team in competition.

It is also about our sports heritage, football history, the friendships and interactions of members, and their families and friends, etc.

It would be a sad chapter in our football history, if household names in Singapore’s once famous and adored football scene disappear into the dust of history.

As long as inactive clubs are promoting football, in some way, such as supporting friendly football matches as a form of exercise (not necessarily only competitive football), gatherings to watch football, enhancing awareness of football to younger people to cultivate sportsmanship and sporting spirit, etc, these clubs should be allowed to stay.

Otherwise, why would there be, as we understand it – clubs without a professional team in competition – that are still “alive” and enriching the football heritage in some countries?

We should also have a heart for all the employees of these clubs whose livelihoods are being “kicked” about, for what may arguably be a “knee-jerk reaction” public relations exercise, which arose out of the recent issues at the FAS elections.

Editor’s note – While FAS is saying that their intention of taking away the cash machines is to revamp the S-League into a more viable and exciting competition. But how much is FAS giving as fundings for football clubs to operate as professional clubs to begin with? If the clubs were to give up their cash machines, can they sustain the club activities such as those that Leong has mentioned?