FAS Elections: Candidate Bill Ng reveals $850k 'donation' to FAS
SINGAPORE — Hougang United chairman Bill Ng, who is heading Team Game Changers for the upcoming Football Association Singapore (FAS) elections, has opened up on his dealings with former S.League clubs Tiong Bahru United and Woodlands Wellington.
Ng’s involvement with both teams has come under scrutiny in recent times. The businessman assumed the chairmanship of debt-ridden Tiong Bahru in 2004, while he was also tangled up in the planned merger between Woodlands and Hougang in 2014, a project which ultimately fell through two years later.
And last evening at Team Game Changers’ media conference at the Fullerton Bay Hotel where they unveiled their manifesto, Ng went on record to clarify his roles with Tiong Bahru and Woodlands.
“In my line of work (as a mergers and acquisition specialist), I help businesses who are struggling financially and ‘rescue’ them,” said Ng.
“So in 2004, I was roped in by the FAS to help Tiong Bahru as they were in debt. In 2008, I was asked to help another ailing club: Sengkang Punggol (now known as Hougang).
“In 2010, there were about four to five clubs with financial problems and among them was Woodlands. As such, I split my management team at Hougang to help Woodlands out, and that’s how I first came to be associated with Woodlands.”
Since assuming leadership of Tiong Bahru and Hougang, Ng has helped to transform the clubs into self-sustaining outfits mainly through their clubhouse jackpot operations.
When asked why Tiong Bahru have yet to make their return to the S.League despite currently being financially self-sustainable, Ng revealed that he had requested for the club to be reinstated into Singapore’s only professional sports league.
However, he said FAS general secretary Winston Lee told him to keep Tiong Bahru in the amateur National Football League (NFL).
“We spent about four years helping the club’s accounts go into the black. After that, I went back to the FAS and asked Winston if Tiong Bahru can return to the S.League,” said Ng.
Ng added that when he asked Lee how the two clubs can contribute to local football, he was told to have them donate money to the FAS. He estimates that they have donated close to S$850,000 to the national sports association.
“We managed to accumulate quite a bit of profit for both clubs, and we were told to donate about $850,000 to the FAS,” said Ng.
“We were told that since Tiong Bahru has been making money, but are not playing in the S.League, to donate some money back to the FAS.
“There was a title sponsor who wanted to come in to support Hougang, but then 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.
“We went back and spoke to our sponsors, and they were fine with us using their funds to support the LionsXII in the form of a donation.
“Why did we agree to it? The answer lies in the fact that all of us love football and we wanted to help in any way we can.”
Ng also shed light on his role in the planned merger between Hougang and Woodlands, and said former S.League chief executive officer Lim Chin was the main driver behind the proposal.
“In 2014, I was called into a meeting with the FAS where they told me that they intended to have Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands sit out of the S.League,” said Ng.
“They said that since I know the management of Woodlands, why not have a merger to form a super club because the funding from the Tote Board is decreasing.
“This idea is mooted and initiated entirely by the FAS.
“I was appointed as the lead manager for this project, but as you all know, the merger failed to go through.
“But because of this failure, I returned Woodlands back to the FAS. So to clarify, I have nothing to do with the affairs of Woodlands right now.”
When asked why he was only revealing these details now, Ng said: “All of us here love football, and I am no different. I waited and tolerated because I thought things would change. But perhaps the change was a bit slow.
“Until today, we know that we cannot wait any longer. We have to roar into a new beginning (for Singapore football). This is why I’m running for president and why my team is running for the FAS elections.
“We will work hard, we will work with all of the stakeholders, and we will make Singapore football better for sure.”
* Team Game Changers will contest the FAS elections on April 29 against Team LKT, which is spearheaded by former FAS VP Lim Kia Tong.
* The landmark elections will see 15 council seats up for grabs in the form of a nine-member slate and six individual seats.
* Forty four FAS affiliates – comprising nine S.League teams, 23 NFL clubs, and 12 others – will be eligible to vote in the elections.
* A minimum of two-thirds of the total votes is needed for teams contesting in a slate to win, while independent candidates need only a simple majority to get voted in.
* The election will be held at the Sport Singapore (Black Box) Auditorium at the Singapore Sports Hub.