Tampinese Rovers clubhouse closes due to alleged rental arrears

Tampines Rovers’ former clubhouse at Burlington Square is the subject of a dispute concerning the rental arrears.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Tampines Rovers have brought in nine players from the now-defunct LionsXII side, and even moved to break their wage record by luring former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant to the Jurong West Stadium as they prepare to mount a charge for the 2016 Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League title.

The club, however, will not be able to depend on profits from their clubhouse operations to help fund the expensively assembled squad.

Last month, Tampines were evicted from their clubhouse premises at Burlington Square on Bencoolen Street, allegedly due to rental arrears amounting to some $90,000 (three months) with landlord - Burlington Food Square Pte Ltd.

The landlord had served four lawyers' letters in a bid to recover their monies but to no avail.

When contacted yesterday, Stags' chairman Krishna Ramachandra distanced the club from the situation and insisted their finances will not be hurt.

He asserted that the club can afford the signing of Pennant, believed to be on wages of about $480,000 a year. The club have moved to secure a sponsor who will help fund Pennant's wages, with more parties looking to come on board.

"That clubhouse was not leased through us, and not our problem, so to speak. We've never had a problem with financial obligations," said the lawyer, who revealed that the club had engaged the services of a management company - understood to be First Rich Management Pte Ltd - to run their clubhouse.

"We've not relied on this (profits from jackpot operations in the clubhouse) historically, so it hasn't had much of an impact (on our operational budget or finances)," said Krishna, who clarified that financial procedures were followed.

"(First Rich) do not take any of the profit from the jackpot takings. In fact, the total takings are managed by our personnel, as well as payment of (private lottery) taxes. As far as the monies are concerned, we are very up to date on that."

TNP understands that while the landlord for the 3,000 square-foot facility was preparing to issue a writ of possession to seize the property in the clubhouse, it allowed Tampines to reclaim their possessions from the premises, including 16 games machines.

In response to queries, the landlord declined to comment, as "legal proceedings have commenced".

A representative from First Rich told TNP that while they have moved out of Burlington Square, they are disputing the amount owed, and insisted they have paid a three-month deposit on a three-year lease that started last June.

Said Krishna: "We are not in the business of running F&B operations linked with the clubhouse, and we needed a professional company to help us with that. Sure it's not an ideal situation, but we couldn't have predicted how things turned out."

He said Tampines are now moving to change how their clubhouse functions.

"It has been a steep learning curve because we aren't used to running F&B operations tied up with jackpot operations, but we've got to bite the bullet and learn," he said. "We will now invest in doing this in- house."

And Krishna believes this whole incident could well be a blessing in disguise.

"The irony is that we're not maximising the opportunity (of running a jackpot operations), but now that operations will be run by us, we'll probably look at an uptake from that," he added.

Clubs receive up to $800,000 in annual subsidies from the S.League and have traditionally relied on profits from their clubhouse operations to supplement their operational budget for football activities.

Last April, TNP reported that Bill Ng's Hougang United announced a profit of more than $2 million from clubhouse operations in the previous year.

Bucking a trend, Ng's Cheetahs are well in the black, with the chairman declaring at the time that Hougang were "self-sufficient".

shamiro@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 15, 2016.
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