No plans to close Juventus school

No plans to close Juventus school
Young players at the Juventus Soccer School undergoing a training session. Despite its financial woes, the school had sent some of them to play friendlies in Indonesia a few weeks ago.

The Singapore branch of the Juventus Football School (JSS) has been accused of not paying office rental and its former employees but the man behind the academy insists he has no plans to run away and fold the business.

Yesterday, Jiri Cerny, managing director of Kickster, the firm that runs the JSS, said that, while salaries and rental still remain unpaid, he is determined to tackle the problem.

"The JSS is not running away from here (Singapore). We are not a football school who simply just leave when we face problems," said the Czech.

"I am working to clear all the outstanding payments. I just need some time but I am not escaping from this situation because it is my fault after all."

In a twist, Cerny alleged that he had not paid his former employees due to what he claimed was a lack of professionalism.

He said: "The coaches were always arriving later than the time I instructed them to come at.

"Once, I had 20 boys waiting for a coach and another instance where a coach informed me five minutes before training was scheduled to begin to tell me that he will not be able to turn up."

Despite its money woes, the school's thrice-weekly training sessions at Tanglin Secondary School are not affected.

The school had even sent some of its players to play friendly matches in Indonesia a few weeks ago.

The New Paper reported that the Italian Serie A giants' academy owes at least four employees their salaries, with at least one of them being unpaid for up to four months.

Muhammad Fadzli, who joined the school as an administrator and coach in November last year, claims that he is owed four months of wages, totalling $9,000, and he has since reported the matter to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

He denied claims that he had been unprofessional during his employment at JSS.

"This is the first time that I am hearing him (Cerny) voice his displeasure," said Fadzli, who resigned in March.

"Why bring this up only now, after the problems rear their head? If he really was not happy, he would have said it long ago and not now."

The MOM had initially given Cerny until Tuesday to settle the unpaid salaries, but till press time Fadzli had yet to receive payment.

With a two-year-old daughter to feed, he is hoping for a swift resolution.

"I have been patient for so long but it is getting really difficult financially," he said.

"Even a simple task like taking a bus to get around is a strain. That is how grim the situation is."

drajac@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 15, 2015.
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