Juve school to close

Juve school to close
Banners of the Juventus Soccer School, hung at their Tanglin Secondary School headquarters.

In just over six weeks, on June 30, the Juventus Football School (JSS) will cease to exist in Singapore.

Jiri Cerny, the managing director of Kickster, the company that manages JSS, informed parents of its trainees that the school will close.

In an e-mail dated May 14, Cerny said that due to a lack of information regarding changes at the club in Italy, JSS is "not authorised to use (the) Juventus brand and logo, work with local sponsors," or run camps and programmes. Our hands are (tied) and we are in many ways limited by (the) Juventus brand".

While it is unclear if these issues have anything to do with the school's alleged financial trouble that has seen its former employees lodge reports to both the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, and its former landlord refer the issue of alleged unpaid rent to its lawyers, Cerny remained upbeat.

NOT RUNNING AWAY

He told The Straits Times that "JSS is not running away", "we are not a football school who simply leave when we face problems", the Czech national was quoted as saying.

In his e-mail to parents, Cerny revealed that from July 1, the school will take on a new name, a new logo, and train at a new venue, all fuelled by a new partnership with an Italian company.

Cerny failed to meet the May 12 deadline of an MOM order to pay one former employee, Fadzli Sahat, some $9,000 in unpaid wages, but Fadzli revealed that Cerny has promised to do so by Monday.

"Jiri has copied me in his e-mail reply to MOM that he will credit the amount of $6,500 (excluding CPF contributions) to me on Monday, with another $2,000 for another former colleague," said Fadzli. "He also said that he would be updating MOM once he has credited both the unpaid salary as well as CPF contributions.

"Regardless of what he said - since his original promise was to make payment earlier yesterday afternoon - I am just hoping that he fulfils his responsibilities as an employer and settles the unpaid amount as soon as possible."

The New Paper had earlier reported that JSS allegedly owes at least four of its former employees some $15,000 in unpaid wages, expenses and CPF contributions. And as of May 13, JSS has also yet to pay an undisclosed amount in rent to its former landlord, Servcorp.

While one parent of a JSS trainee called the current state of affairs "disgraceful", another parent, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that he is unlikely to continue with JSS or the new entity that will take its place.

He said: "Initially, we were forced to change training venue to Tanglin Secondary School and I was already unhappy with that sudden change.

"After that, there was a change in coaches who also saw changes in (training) methodology.

"Now with JSS owing money to coaches, it shows that they are just not well prepared to properly use the name of Juventus - I don't expect I will let my son carry on there."

When contacted by TNP last night, Cerny declined further comment.

In his e-mail to parents, he said: "I understand that this situation can be confusing for many of you.

"(The) younger academy players could be disappointed by (losing) their 'Juventus dream', some can say that 'just another academy closed', but I would ensure you that we are still here for you.

"We don't stop, we never give up."


This article was first published on May 16, 2015.
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