Monday, February 28, 2011

The headline numbers do not matter if it is gobbled up by commercial rates

Over the past week, there had been a number of impressive headline numbers for Singapore football with SSC promising FAS S$2.5 million funding this time, FAS talking with URA about building a stadium that is costing millions and Starhub finalizing the TV deal that should have added $500k to Singapore football coffers.

While it is impressive, let not forget that Singapore football is vastly underfunded.

And before going on, I would like to give a round of applause to Singapore rugby president Mr Low Teo Ping for the TODAY paper had try to lure 'negative' vibes from him about other sport (Ok, it is football) by asking how it felt to get the same funding when others get an increase.

He did not take that bait and rightly so.

I have always believed Singapore sport is not united at all and that is disappointing for it is common to see other sports discipline 'attack' other when it encounter problems or by claiming they can do better.

No doubt, they do this hoping to get an edge over other sports discipline especially if those sports are believed to be above them.

Compare this with Taiwan, when baseball - their island top sport discipline - got into trouble due to corruption in their league and was facing a total collapse as virtually every teams was involved.

Instead of facing a barrage of attacks from other sports, they united together to support it especially basketball, baseball biggest competitor, and the baseball league was able to start.

Certainly basketball did not do this because of compassion as their association noted that if baseball collapse it will affect all other sport on the island as well.

That is the turth and if other sports hope the collapse of football will allow them to climb up they have to note that football currently consist of nearly 30% of the GDP value of sports and it collapse will bring down the entire local sport industry.

They cannot gain anything and it will affect everybody negatively in the end. (Like how the world biggest economy collapsed, it affected the world and nobody was immune) 

This is especially as football in Singapore do not have that big an advantage as claimed by other sports.

If we had, then Singapore teams should have a deal like New York Knicks who, despite being among NBA richest teams, is able to rent Madison Square Garden for US$1 (S$1.27) a year from their City Council or be like the English FA, among the world richest FA, who regularly collect 40% of the money dispense by Sport England (An association like SSC)

Do Singapore football get such deals?

Of course not and that is why we are so vastly underfunded.

For me, the crucial issue among all the headline numbers is the subsidy system of SSC.

SSC consistently reply that they have increase the subsidy to S-league clubs and FAS when it come to rentals yet how is it possible to see a 300% gain in rental as revealed by Balestier Khalsa.

So is the format 'flawed' as in my mind, this is the format

Product: $10 Subsidy: 50% Cost: $5

After 'increase' in Subsidy to 75%

Same Product: $15 Subsidy: 75% Cost: $7.5

So where is the Subsidy, one may wonder as it is on paper and frankly, worthless in the eye of person receiving it.

Indeed, payments to SSC gobbled up nearly 50% of the S-league seed money before the recent increase and even now, it take up to 35% of it.

Do any other sports in Singapore see that much money go back into the hands of SSC as once included FAS share of the rental, I can estimate it is around S$1.5 million.

While I am not asking for the type of deal like New York Knicks, we have to remember SSC is a monopoly and clubs cannot choose to change venue to cut cost so we are at the mercy of it when it come to how much they want to charge.

And a 300% gain in rental is ridiculous even with SSC constantly defending itself by stating it is commercial rate.

For let not forget, SSC is not delivering commercial standard as well for the stadiums seats are concrete and the state of the pitch - like the recent abandoned Yishun which have a mud pitch as a field - the less we talk the better.

Indeed, football do not need more money as it is meaningless if the payments to SSC is not reviewed as based on commercial terms, it may be time for a raise. (sooner or later)

Then what is the use as everything will be gobbled up again.

And before SSC tell us, they cannot go into red as well, I like to remind them that in the early 2000s, they had try to raise public fees to their swimming pools and sport councils by telling us that they will go into the red soon.

But with the state of the economy then, the government refused and SSC never raise the issue.

It is now nearly a decade and miraculously SSC have never gone into the black hole they spoke of when they wanted to raise fees and instead they are in the pink of health.

So is the $1.5 million that Singapore football give back that important to their financial books and any cut is not achievable.

Especially now as the clubs and the league want to develop the sport industry but commercial rates are a killer and how then can Singapore football develop if they have to give money away first without having a chance to earn it.

Maybe Mr Teo Ser Luck, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS)should look into that if he ready mean to help Singapore football for one hand in, one hand out help SSC, not Singapore football.

No comments: