Bernard Tan does not deserve to be the President of the Football Association of Singapore (FAS).
And fans and affiliates need to let their voices be heard.
Since being parachuted into the FAS executive council in 2014, Tan has really done nothing much to elevate the state of the game.
What is apparent is that in the last 10 years, Singapore football has dropped to standards only unimaginable and downright embarrassing.
At the youth level, Singapore has failed to make the knockout stages of the Southeast Asian Games since 2013, and at every other age group, what’s consistent is failure.
At the senior level, the Lions only managed to squeeze into the semi-finals of the biennial ASEAN Football Federation Cup once since then in 2021 when Singapore played hosts to a post-Covid tournament.
At the local professional league level, the Singapore Premier League has not turned out to be as premier as it was supposed to be when the rebranding was initiated in 2018.
Let’s assess Tan on three levels – accomplishments, fundraising, administration.
WHAT HAS TAN ACHIEVED AS A DEPUTY PRESIDENT?
In 2014, when he was inducted into the Council,, he said in an interview that he wanted to revolutionise schools football.
In 2021, when the grand announcement was made to have Singapore qualify for the 2034 World Cup (yes, you are reading it right), Tan said that the best of Singapore’s footballers should be playing overseas.
“In Goal 2034, we want our players to play in the best leagues in the world. That’s when you get the best national team.”
Our question – what has Tan done to ensure that he gets our local players overseas?
Let’s not forget that Singapore’s FAS have signed MOUs with the Japan Football Association, the Saudi Arabian Football Association and the French Football Federation, among others.
What has been Tan’s role in getting our players abroad?
Have any of the MOUs provided opportunities for our male and female players to train and play overseas?
What about fundraising?
How much has Tan helped to bring into the FAS to supplement the funds provided for by the Singapore Totalisator Board and Sport Singapore?
How many major sponsors has he managed to convince to invest in the football cause in Singapore so that players and clubs across the board can benefit from more funding?
The annual reports offer an unequivocal view of where the FAS stands in terms of fundraising for the sport.
At the Singapore Premier League level, even AIA ceased being the title sponsor and are now just the presenting sponsor.
The FAS has not made public how much is the cash quantum involved in this sponsorship with AIA.
As deputy president previously, and or someone who is aiming to helm the organisation, surely he must be held responsible for the current state of affairs, given that he has been involved in the organisation at the decision-making level for a decade.
And how about administration?
Has Tan actually run a football club before, so that he knows what it needed from the grounds up to build a successful football entity?
The answer is also no, and as stated, he was parachuted into the FAS in 2014 after a stint on the board of Sport Singapore, and currently sits on the board of the Singapore Sport School.
And now, even the administration of Singapore’s professional league looks set to be undertaken by Unleash The Roar, if recent comments are anything to go by.
Our question is – why is the football fraternity leaving the fate of the sport in the hands of someone who does not seem to have accomplished much for football, has not done enough to raise money for the sport and more importantly does not have the experience of even running a football club.
IF NOT BERNARD TAN, THEN WHO?
There are three names whom may be able to take the game forward, who are already within the ranks of the FAS.
Former Tampines Rovers chairman and current FAS Vice-President Teo Hock Seng is one whose heart is in the right place.
Apart from his role at Tampines Rovers, overseeing it at the time when they were most successful, Teo has also provided jobs for many footballers at Komoco Motors over the years.
Nazri Nasir, Noh Alam Shah, Sharifuddin Mahmood, Satria Mad, Yunos Abdul Samad and so many more players have found second careers at Komoco Motors, Teo’s distributorship.
He even poured some money into becoming the title sponsor for the Singapore Cup a few seasons ago.
Another one deserves a chance to hold the position of President is current Vice-President S Thavaneson.
Say what you want about the way he runs Balestier Khalsa and Balestier Central, one thing is for sure, he knows how to balance his books.
And Balestier Khalsa, like Tampines Rovers, Geylang International and Lion City Sailors (Police FC, Home United), are the only clubs in the history of the league since its inception in 1996 which have stayed the course and have not sat out any season.
Those who know the man from way back will also recall how he once brought in Malaysian icons Dollah Salleh and Zainal Abidin Hassan to don the Balestier colours during the semi-finals of the President’s Cup back in 1988.
Like Teo, Thavaneson has also provided livelihoods to footballers, and has football run in his veins having committed his life towards the game.
Or what about current Tampines Rovers chairman Desmond Ong?
Given the limitations, Ong has kept the Stags among the leaders year in and year out since taking over as chairman.
He has also signed multiple sponsorships for the Stags and continues to improve the match day experience for fans alike, constantly evolving.
Bernard Tan aside, there are others who have done so much more, who deserve to take Singapore football forward.
The affiliates need to take a stand.
MAIN PHOTO: Business Times, S-League, Solitaire LLP