Nine-time champions Warriors FC, who were instructed to sit out this Singapore Premier League (SPL) season because of accumulated debts, are seeking to return to the league next year.
The Straits Times understands that the club have written to the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) seeking a meeting with its executive committee, where they hope to present their proposal for reinstatement.
It is understood the Warriors are claiming that they have consolidated their financial position and restructured their outstanding debts, and also want to show the FAS how they plan to be financially sustainable.
The club are also keen to address the issue of their new management team.
Former general manager Paul Poh has resigned – the FAS had asked the Warriors to relieve him of his duties in August last year.
While former chairman Philip Lam remains on the management committee (MC), it is understood Brigadier-General (Ret) Lam Shiu Tong, an ex-chairman who was an adviser to the club, is standing in as acting chair.
Last December, after two months of correspondence, the FAS had instructed the Warriors to sit out the current season, citing the club’s debts to various authorities and their players’ unpaid salaries, which allegedly amounted to almost $850,000, as the reason.
A source told ST that a “significant portion” of the debts have been repaid, and that the club have also reached agreements with the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board and Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, as well as scheduled all remaining salaries owed to players.
The club used their surpluses from their Singapore Pools outlet, along with contributions from MC members, to pay off this portion of the debt.
The Warriors were originally known as the Singapore Armed Forces Football Club and acted under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).
They are the most successful Singapore football club of the professional era, and the only team to compete in the Asian Champions League group stage.
A name change to Warriors FC in 2013 preceded Mindef ceding control of the club in January 2017 – when Philip Lam took over the reins – reportedly to allow an unnamed incoming private sponsor more influence in the running of the club.
Barely 18 months later, trouble started brewing.
ST reported in October 2018 that the club had struggled to pay their staff on time, leading to the Ministry of Manpower barring them from foreign hires.
In July last year, with the late salary payouts continuing, the FAS said it was “gravely concerned” with how financial subsidies provided to the club had been administered. It also revealed it had been paying the club employees’ monthly CPF contributions directly to the CPF Board since March.
In November last year, the Warriors were charged with 107 counts of not paying their employees’ salaries as far back as July, with arrears amounting to over $350,000. A month later, the club announced they had paid $150,000 through loans from their MC members.