SINGAPORE – Warriors FC, previously known as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club and nine-time winners of the Singapore Premier League (SPL), was fined $26,000 on Tuesday (Jan 11) after it pleaded guilty to 134 charges, with three other charges granted a discharge amounting to an acquittal.
Themajority, 133 of the 137 charges it faced, were related to charges for non-payment of its employees’ salaries from July 2019 to Dec 2019
Four other charges were related to an incident in March 2016 where the club failed to inform the Police Licensing & Regulatory Department of its hiring of four security officers to conduct security bag checks at an SPL game. These came under the Public Security Industry Act (PSIA).
Warriors were fined a total of $21,000 for the Employment Act charges, and $5,000 for the ones that came under the PSIA.
The club, which has been hamstrung by financial woes that resulted in it sitting out the 2020 and 2021 seasons of the SPL, is allowed to pay the fine in instalments over 15 months, which will end in May 2023.
In its mitigation plea, its lawyer Azri Imran Tan of I.R.B Law said the club would not make “excuses for its conduct, especially in relation to the (employment act) charges” and “accepts responsibility wholeheartedly”.
The club did its best to rectify the issue, he added, including making full restitution to the staff involved, with the last instalment of monies due to affected employees paid out in July last year.
In total, including charges taken into consideration, the club did not pay almost $350,000 in salaries to 35 employees.
Warriors remains in debt, with almost $560,000 owed to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and Central Provident Fund (CPF). However, payment plans “which are both serviceable and manageable” are in place with both authorities.
Mr Tan added that the current Warriors management intend to ride out this storm, address all problems and deficiencies and noted: “The long term goal will be for the club to be able to return to competing in Singapore football competitions, on sustainable financial footing.”
Originally under the purview of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), Warriors are the most successful club here of the professional era which began in 1996 although their last title triumph was in 2014.
The name change to Warriors in 2013 preceded Mindef ceding control of the club in Jan 2017, reportedly to allow an unnamed incoming private sponsor more say in the running of the club.