Saturday, August 31, 2019

FAS instructs SPL club Warriors to remove GM Paul Poh from post

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a media statement on Friday morning (Aug 30) that it has directed Singapore Premier League (SPL) club Warriors FC to remove the club's general manager and honorary secretary, Paul Poh Por Chuan, from both appointments with immediate effect. It is believed this is the first time the FAS has issued such a directive to a professional club in Singapore, since the S-League was formed in 1996. It comes after a period of turmoil at the club, which has seen it struggle to pay its staff on time on a number of occasions over the past 14 months, leading to a Ministry of Manpower investigation, and two subsequent bans on foreign hires. However, Poh told The Straits Times he has not resigned from his roles at Warriors, and indicated he would not make any further comments on the FAS' directive until he had learnt more about it. He joined the Warriors in 2016 and ran the club's operations on a day-to-day basis. In July, ST had reported that the FAS was "gravely concerned" by the way funds, which it disburses to all six local SPL clubs, are being managed at the Warriors. Each SPL club receives a little over $1 million in subsidies a year from the FAS for salaries of staff like the general manager, coaches, and foreign players. About one fifth of this is not disbursed to the clubs as they comprise insurance and facilities subsidies which the FAS underwrites. In its statement on Friday, the FAS revealed that Warriors had been unable to pay staff and players' monthly Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions since January 2019. Said the FAS: "There is an obligation in law to do so, and this failure is presently being looked into. "This direction (to remove Poh) arises from the FAS' discovery of serious and repeated lapses which Warriors have failed to take steps to rectify, and also having regard to the best interests of the players and staff at (the club)."

The FAS also said it would assist Warriors in the interim, including the possibility of seconding an FAS staff member to manage the club's administration till the end of the ongoing season, which concludes on Sept 29. To ensure that the Warriors players are able to keep to their training regimen, the FAS will also assist with the club's field bookings so that the team are able to focus on preparing for their remaining five matches. ST's report in July uncovered a number of business ventures the club had undertaken since May 2018, which are understood to have not reaped dividends. This includes a five-year deal with Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund to become the German club's official youth development partner in Singapore and a karaoke outlet at the club's Choa Chu Kang Stadium premises. Warriors chairman, Philip Lam Tin Sing, who is listed on finance resources online as the president commissioner of an Indonesian-based company, is said to have a hands-off approach to running the club. Created from the Singapore Armed Forces Sports Association, the club was named SAFFC from the league's inception in 1996 and it came under the direct purview of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) until 2017. As SAFFC, the club lifted eight titles in the first 14 seasons of the S-League. Since then, they have won just one championship - in 2014 - over nine seasons. A name change from SAFFC to Warriors FC in 2013 preceded the club's eventual move away from military control, which became official in January 2017. Mindef had ceded control of the team as an incoming private sponsor had sought more say in the running of the club, although the sponsor was not named.

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