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FAS has no control over how NFL clubs run jackpot operations

SINGAPORE — Questions may have arisen over how Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC) was allowed to reap more than S$36 million in income from jackpot machines, but former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council member S Thavaneson said yesterday that the FAS had no regulatory authority over amateur clubs in the National Football League (NFL).

The Football Association of Singapore has no regulatory authority over NFL clubs and how they run their clubhouse operations because they receive no funding from the national football body. Photo: NOAH TAN

The Football Association of Singapore has no regulatory authority over NFL clubs and how they run their clubhouse operations because they receive no funding from the national football body. Photo: NOAH TAN

 

SINGAPORE — Questions may have arisen over how Tiong Bahru Football Club (TBFC) was allowed to reap more than S$36 million in income from jackpot machines, but former Football Association of Singapore (FAS) council member S Thavaneson said yesterday that the FAS had no regulatory authority over amateur clubs in the National Football League (NFL).

This is despite the NFL clubs being affiliates of the FAS which participate in a competition organised by the association.

Responding to a question on whether the FAS should be looking into the jackpot operations of its affiliates, the former chairman of the FAS’ NFL Committee said: “This has been a public misperception for a long time. We have no power over NFL clubs because they get no funding from us.

“The only hold we have on NFL clubs is through competition rules and regulations. We have no say over whether they should have jackpot licences or not, because these are issued by the police, not us.”

According to Mr Thavaneson, who is also chairman of S.League club Balestier Khalsa, the FAS has more authority over S.League clubs because they receive substantial funding from the Tote Board.

He added: “S.League clubs go through a lot of accounting. And because they get their money in tranches, S.League clubs need to submit monthly accounts of their spending. If they don’t do it, they don’t get the next tranche.”

Even though eyebrows were raised by the fact that TBFC spent only S$169,000 on its football team despite raking in millions, Mr Thavaneson said there was nothing the FAS could do in such an instance.

“It is not for us to comment, but in general, money generated from jackpot operations should be ploughed back 100 per cent into the club’s football matters,” he said.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the police said: “Registered private clubs are permitted to operate jackpot machines as part of a whole suite of social and recreational offerings for their members. These clubs are to abide by the permit conditions.”

While the police’s permit conditions do not stipulate how much of the jackpot profits have to be channelled back to the football team, several S.League club officials agreed with Mr Thavaneson that the money must be used to promote the club’s footballing activities.

“For example, the clubhouse made around S$60,000 a month,” said Mr R Vengadasalam, who managed Tampines Rovers’ clubhouse operations from 2004 to 2008. “Mr Teo Hock Seng (then Tampines chairman) would tell me to put S$50,000 into the club’s account, while the rest would go into a float for the clubhouse.”

Mr Thavaneson added: “This is also why Balestier has only eight fruit machines all these years, and never bothered to get more. We don’t use them to derive substantial income for the club, but to supplement our funding from the S.League and cover whatever shortfall may occur.”

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