The Unofficial Hougang United FC Supporters Blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

S-League clubs worry over rental hikes

By Shamir OsMan
Photo: Wikipedia
SINGAPORE — Last week in Parliament, it was revealed that clubs in the Great EasternYeo’s S-League were set for a 40 per cent subsidy increase from the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), with the amount rising to S$8.7 million from S$6.2 million last year.

But with the Singapore Sports Council ( $$C ) poised to raise rental rates of sports facilities for the new financial year, starting on April 1, S-League clubs may see a significant portion of that increase slip from their grasp.

Speaking to MediaCorp yesterday, Balestier Khalsa vice-chairman S Thavaneson said: “We’ve heard of the possible revision of rental rates, and although it’s been said on the grapevine that there may be a substantial rise, we’ve not been advised on the actual revision yet.

“We’re collating information from all clubs, the current cost, amount of space utilised and the impact; and we’re trying to arrange for a meeting to present the real facts as far as clubs are concerned.”

The S-League kicked off in 1996 and today features 12 teams. While the Courts Young Lions are run by the FAS, the other nine local clubs received a total subsidy of around S$500,000 each last year, with the cash component at about S$310,000.

Foreign clubs — currently, Japan’s Albirex Niigata and France’s Etoile FC play in the S-League — received a subsidy of around S$120,000 in the first year, and the amount, which does not involve cash, is believed to have gone a little over S$200,000 today.

With a number of teams struggling financially, the club chairmen made a plea to the FAS for more seed money late last year.

They’ve got their wish, but the rise in rental rates will hit their pockets.

In response to queries from MediaCorp, SSC said in a statement yesterday: “The SSC is in the process of revising the rental rates for all its facilities to reflect the current market valuation. As they include the premises utilised by the S-League clubs, we will continue to engage the Football Association of Singapore closely over the matter.”

In 2009, cost of rental for all S-League stadia was S$4.7 million, with the SSC subsidising it to the tune of S$3.5 million.

MediaCorp understands the SSC have engaged a valuer to ascertain the market value of facilities used by clubs — including offices at stadiums, Singapore Pools outlets run by the clubs, and even toilets and changing room facilities — and some of the clubs fear rental prices will rise from the current S$0.50 per square foot (psf) to as high as S$1.70 psf. 

MediaCorp understands the SSC informed all National Sports Associations that market rates will be charged for their facilities starting in the new financial year 2011-12 at the launch of their annual NSA grant exercise last September.

Said FAS president Zainudin Nordin: “We’ve heard about the revision and we want to study the impact that it will have on clubs. I can imagine the concerns that the clubs have, and we’re always concerned about managing costs, because we want clubs managed in a sustainable way.

“So far we have alerted SSC on the impact of their revisions, and we’ll see if we can come to an understanding.”

Most clubs MediaCorp spoke to expressed concern about the new rates.

Said Gombak United chairman John Yap: “We are worried that the increase may be substantial compared to what clubs are paying now, and it will be a greater financial burdern for us to bear." (SOURCE)

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