SINGAPORE: Plain clothes investigators were seen on Thursday (Apr 20) raiding the offices of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) and three local football clubs.
The raids were conducted shortly after SportSG announced that it had filed a police report over suspected misuse of Tiong Bahru FC funds and an alleged attempt by a senior club official to obstruct the completion of audits of S.League sit-out clubs.
This latest dramatic twist in the saga involving the local football community came after a month of claims, counterclaims, allegations and denials around the elections to choose a new leadership team for the FAS.
Team Game Changers, led by Mr Bill Ng, will face-off against Team LKT, led by interim president of the FAS, Mr Lim Kia Tong, in the FAS' first elections. The elections will take place on Apr 29at the Sport Singapore Black Box Auditorium.
The following is a summary of some of the events before Thursday's raids.
MAR 15: BILL NG TO CHALLENGE FOR FAS LEADERSHIP
In an interview with TODAY, Mr Ng, the 56-year-old chairman of football clubs Hougang United FC and Tiong Bahru FC, confirmed that he would be leading a team of candidates for the upcoming FAS elections.
He was quoted as saying that local football was “in a vicious cycle”, neither producing on the pitch nor financially.
“Ending that rut is going to be our new team’s focus, to bring back the ‘Kallang Roar’ and to give the roar a foundation to exist for the many generations to come,” Mr Ng said.
MAR 18: OPPONENT LIM QUESTIONS NG’S CANDIDACY
Mr Lim spoke to The Straits Times in a video interview together with Tampines Rovers chairman Mr Teo Hock Seng.
Mr Teo said that Mr Ng has “a hidden agenda coming to football” while Mr Lim said: “Is he (Ng) of the same mould as all of us in this team, or is he in the mould of someone who is only interested to gain some mileage?”
MAR 19: TAMPINES ROVERS CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR APOLOGY ON BEHALF OF NG
Tampines Rovers chairman Krishna Ramachandra, who will be standing for election in Mr Ng’s team, hit out at the remarks made by Mr Lim and Mr Teo. He commented on Facebook: “An apology is due immediately before it gets out of hand."
“Honestly, those gentlemen went down in my estimation. I will nevertheless give them the benefit of doubt and say it was uncharacteristic of them."
MAR 22: NG HITS BACK AT REMARKS
Through a press release, Mr Ng rebutted the remarks made by Mr Lim and Mr Teo. He said that his team's sole intention was to "modernise the Singapore game from grassroots up, as well as from the administration and leadership levels".
He also stressed that there was no room for politics in local football: “Singapore’s game must be modernised and the politics must be removed. The focus must be on the credentials and who can do better for our game. And it cannot rely on one or two individuals in positions of power.”
APR 13: NG REVEALS DONATION TO FAS
At the Team Game Changers’ media conference at the Fullerton Bay Hotel where his team unveiled their manifesto, Mr Ng spoke about money that Tiong Bahru FC had forwarded to the FAS.
Mr Ng said: “The FAS asked us if we could help them out financially as that was the period of the LionsXII (playing in the Malaysian Super League) and they needed a bigger budget to run the project.”
He added that FAS asked if he could provide the amount as a donation rather than consider it a sponsorship because this would require just a cheque, whereas "a lot of contracts" would be needed for a sponsorship.
Asked if he knew what the donation was used for, Mr Ng said that was "a great question" and that as he was not in the FAS, the "limited answer" he could give would be that it would be best to call FAS general secretary Winston Lee. "I believe that none of the council (members) knew anything about this," he added.
APR 14: NG’S CLAIMS “BASELESS AND UNTRUE”, SAYS FAS GENERAL SECRETARY
Mr Lee rebutted claims that Mr Ng had no knowledge of what happened to the money he donated and called it a “baseless and untrue accusation”.
Mr Lee then outlined the sequence of events regarding donations or sponsorship from Ng.
“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 S$200,000 to the LionsXII,” he said.
“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 S$500,000 to AFF through FAS."
APR 16: SPORTSG SEEKS CLARIFICATION OVER DONATIONS
The governing body of local sports SportSG released a media statement requesting for a "complete and satisfactory report" from the FAS over its management of large donations.
APR 18: FAS RELEASES DOCUMENTS SUGGESTING NG KNEW ABOUT S$500,000 DONATION
In a media release, Mr Lee produced a letter between Mr Ng and former FAS president Zainudin Nordin which showed that the former had agreed to donate S$500,000 to the AFF.
Mr Lee also released payment vouchers signed by Mr Ng which stipulated that the various cheques Tiong Bahru had given to the FAS were meant for the AFF.
Said Mr Lee: “Bill Ng’s statements are all patently false. The following facts and the supporting documents will make that clear. On Oct 9, 2014, Bill Ng wrote to Zainudin Nordin to thank the latter for 'sharing' AFF’s Football Management System with him.”
APR 18: IT WAS WINSTON LEE WHO ASKED FOR THE DONATION, SAYS NG
Mr Ng refuted Mr Lee’s account in a statement to the media, reiterating that all discussions, as well as the request for the donation, "came from Winston Lee".
Mr Ng wrote: “It was Winston Lee who met me on multiple occasions in 2014 to seek the donations from TBFC for a football management system to be developed for the benefit of Singapore football and ASEAN football.”
“The money donated by TBFC was supposed to benefit Singapore football. How has the AFF Football Management System benefited Singapore football?” asked Mr Ng.
APR 18: TEAMS LKT, GAME CHANGERS OFFICIALLY CLEARED FOR FAS ELECTION
Both teams contesting the FAS' first-ever elections were officially cleared for the polls.
APR 20: SPORTSG FILES POLICE REPORT AGAINST TIONG BAHRU FC
SportSG lodged a police report over suspected misuse of TBFC funds, as well as a purported attempt by a senior club official to obstruct the completion of audits of S.League’s sit-out clubs.
SportSG also said it has received information which raised “serious questions” about the use of TBFC funds.
APR 20: INVESTIGATORS RAID FAS, 3 CLUBS
Shortly after SportSG announced it made the police report, plain clothes officers raided the headquarters of the FAS, and premises of clubs owned by Mr Ng, Hougang United FC and Tiong Bahru FC.