Gymkhana FC's president Patrick Francis has lashed out against the decision of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) to expel his club from the National Football League (NFL) for its failure to send down the full set of 11 players at the start of three matches this year.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Mr Francis highlighted how Kembangan United, another NFL Division Two side, was not subjected to the same treatment despite having breached the same rule on a similar number of occasions.
"This is clearly unfair. Why are we expelled, and another club that committed the same offence get away with it? The rules must apply equally to all clubs. Otherwise what kind of competition are we running here?" he lamented.
Article 39.2.4 of the 2018 NFL's Competition Regulations stipulates that should a club fail to kick off with 11 players for the third time, "the club shall be expelled from the league".
As a penalty against Gymkhana, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) will also be withdrawing "all financial privileges" for the season on top of the expulsion, which includes the $8,000 yearly subsidy from the Association.
"Being expelled means that we also lose the subsidies, and have to pay for the entire season's expenses out of our own pocket, while Kembangan get to keep the money - how is that fair?"
Referring to their final league match against Jungfrau Punggol FC on 11 Nov, Kembangan FC manager Zairi Ahmari told ST: "Yes, we did start with eight players, but ended with 11."
"Why are we not expelled? I can't answer that question," he said, adding: "It's FAS' decision, not mine, so I can't talk about it."
FAS general secretary Yazeen Buhari told ST: "The FAS will act based on facts included in the match inspector and match officials' reports; or if a complaint is made with evidence to support the claim.
"There was nothing to this effect in the reports that we received for the Kembangan FC vs Jungfrau Punggol FC NFL Division Two match on Nov 11, and neither were there formal complaints lodged."
Current affairs and entertainment blog The Monitor reported that "Kembangan’s inability to start the match with 11 players against Jungfrau Punggol wasn’t reflected in the match commissioner’s report".
It added: "If the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) did not have any evidence then, it now has two named officials confirming that Kembangan did indeed start the match against Jungfrau Punggol with insufficient players," which brings into question the "competency, fairness and also legitimacy of the competition" as a result.
Speaking to The Monitor, a lawyer opined that "it is only right that the FAS conducts an internal process of discovery to find out what transpired," following the confirmation by the two officials.
Mr Francis reportedly told The Monitor that the whole situation is “very unfair” and that there was an issue of “double standards” in the process.
The Straits Times earlier reported that FAS will either "act based on facts included in the match inspector and match officials' reports" or "if a complaint is made with evidence to support the claim".
"If the FAS didn’t have evidence now, it sure does now," concluded The Monitor.