S-League: Jaguars keep their jackpot machines

S-League: Jaguars keep their jackpot machines
SOMBRE MOOD: (From right to far right) Tanjong Pagar goalkeeper coach Chua Lye Heng, midfielder Sazali Salleh, midfielder Justin Khiang, chairman Edward Liu and S.League chief executive Lim Chin.

They will not have a team for the 2015 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League season.

But Tanjong Pagar United will continue to run their clubhouse - and the lucrative jackpot machines in them - as they try to regain their financial health and plot a return to the competition.

On Tuesday, The New Paper reported that, among a slew of changes ahead of the upcoming S.League season, the Jaguars would sit out in 2015 because of financial difficulties.

Tanjong Pagar also sat out in 2004 because of money woes, but returned to the S.League in 2011.

In response to TNP queries, a Football Association of Singapore (FAS) spokesman said: "Although Tanjong Pagar are sitting out next season, they will remain as a club affiliated to the FAS.

"The club will be conducting grassroots and community football programmes. They will continue to keep their clubhouse.

"The money raised by the club will be used to further strengthen the club's resources so that they can return stronger to compete in the S.League in the coming seasons as well as to fund their football programmes."

TNP understands that Gombak United, who have been out of the S.League since the end of the 2011 campaign, also continue to run their clubhouse and jackpot machines.

Tanjong Pagar chairman Edward Liu said: "Taking part in the S.League is only one aspect (of the club).

"We will continue to function and run activities such as our clubhouse, outreach programmes and Sunday activities with the CDC (Community Development Council).

"Going forward, we will look at where we can improve our structure of youth development.

Review strategies

"But these are still early days and we will need to sit down and review our strategies and re-strategise our resources."

Apart from Tanjong Pagar's pullout, the S.League also announced that Hougang Untied and Woodlands Wellington would merge into a single club.

Both sides have yet to sort out their technical team for next season.

Woodlands coach Salim Moin admitted he was in "limbo", while Hougang coach Amin Nasir has been battling cancer throughout the 2014 campaign.

Word on the grapevine is that the playing roster will comprise mostly Hougang players.

When asked what the dynamics of the merger would be like, the FAS spokesman said: "Hougang and Woodlands will... combine all their assets and resources in order to become a bigger club so as to be able to challenge for honours next season.

"The respective management committees from the two clubs will meet to form a new management committee. Thereafter, the details of the new club will be discussed."

It is not the first time two S.League clubs have merged.

In 2003, Balestier Central and Clementi Khalsa merged to form Balestier Khalsa.

After almost a decade of languishing in the bottom half of the S.League, the club have posted three consecutive top-half finishes and won the StarHub League Cup last year.

Tomorrow, they hope to capture their biggest prize, yet, when they battle Home United in the RHB Singapore Cup final.

Said Balestier chairman S Thavaneson: "Our case was very different. We weren't looking for a merger but there was a move to drop Clementi Khalsa from the S.League.

"I knew their chairman personally and I knew they were interested in a merger, so I invited them, simply to keep people who wanted to be in football, in the game.

"It is different from the Hougang-Woodlands merger because there was no financial gambit at all. Neither club were operating jackpot machines then.

"As for the technical side of things, after the merger, we brought in Jang Jung as coach. He decided which players he wanted and there was no interference from the management.

"I suppose the new management committee of the Hougang-Woodlands team will have to decide who is the best candidate to lead their team, before they can pick their players and so on."

msazali@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 6, 2014.
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