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By Shamir Osman
The New Paper
Apr 21, 2017
The Tiong Bahru Football Club's (TBFC) jackpot machines operate 16 hours every day, 365 days a year.
But yesterday, their clubhouse at People's Park Centre closed at 4.30pm, 10 hours before the usual closing time, after it was raided by the police.
There were also raids on two other premises - Woodlands Wellington's clubhouse in Prinsep Street and Hougang United office at Hougang Stadium - as well as the Jalan Besar headquarters of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
All three clubs are associated with Mr Bill Ng, who is running for president at the FAS election on April 29.
Mr Ng is the chairman of TBFC, an amateur National Football League (NFL) team, and Hougang United, an S.League club. He was the lead figure in the failed merger between Woodlands and Hougang.
The raids came after Sport Singapore (SportSG) made a police report on Wednesday evening over the 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.
The national sports agency said in a statement yesterday that it had made the report, based on legal advice, because of two key reasons:
- Following media reports that TBFC had donated $500,000 to the Asean Football Federation through the FAS, SportSG received further information on Tuesday, with further checks raising "other serious questions about the use of club funds".
- SportSG had received a letter from a "named individual alleging that a senior officer of a football club had instigated another club to delay and/or obstruct the completion of audits until after the FAS election".
The police said in a statement that they will conduct "a thorough investigation and will take appropriate action against any persons who have committed offences".
They said it was inappropriate to comment further because of ongoing investigations.
Last March, SportSG instructed the FAS to investigate after public feedback on the proposed merger between Hougang and Woodlands, as well as complaints over the management of jackpot revenue at Woodlands.
The FAS then initiated audits, which are still ongoing, into Woodlands and two other S.League sit-out clubs, Gombak United and Tanjong Pager United.
At 3.50pm yesterday, four police investigators arrived at TBFC and demanded to see the clubhouse manager.
About 30 customers were later herded out and the clubhouse was closed at 4.30pm.
Five more investigators arrived 45 minutes later with cardboard boxes.
There were similar scenes at the Woodlands Wellington and Hougang United premises.
Hougang manager Matthew Tay was seen leaving in an unmarked police vehicle.
At about 5.30pm, four plainclothes officers entered the FAS' admin and finance office at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Accompanied by FAS finance director Murtada Ahmad, the officers went into FAS general secretary Winston Lee's office.
Mr Lee reached the FAS premises at 6.25pm, where officers seen packing documents into boxes.
The Straits Times reported yesterday that TBFC recorded a gross income of some $37 million last year, but Mr Ng said the club have only about 7 per cent of gross margins as surplus left for operations costs after payouts and taxes.
TNP had earlier reported that TBFC and Hougang had reported big profits from jackpot operations, with the 57-year-old asserting that he was willing to open his accounting records for inspection.
"Bill Ng will be fully cooperating with the authorities over this matter," his spokesman said yesterday.
Mr Ng has been cleared by FAS' Electoral Committee to stand in the FAS election, with committee chairman K. Bala Chandran saying yesterday that the FAS' 44 affiliates will go to the ballot box on April 29, as scheduled.