Will rules bar able men from FAS elections?

IAN DE COTTA

THIS IS what seems to be floating around.

That candidates contesting for the president and senior council seats at the impending FAS elections must have had at least a prominent position with a football club for two years between 2011 and 2015.

Of course, a (scandal-hit) FIFA or (scandal-hit) Asian Football Confederation appointment will almost be a shoo-in.

What is the point of this rule, if it is actually being tossed around?

Its immediate impact will bar good men like former Geylang chairman Patrick Ang. He retired in January 2012. It will exclude businessmen passionate about football. Men with access and links to sponsorship money.

It will snub the likes of former FAS executive general secretary Steven Tan who rode alongside N Ganesan during Singapore football’s heyday in the 1970s and 1980s.

And there is the feisty Teo Hock Seng who qualifies to run for president. The former Tampines Rovers chairman rendered yeoman’s service to the local game since 1975, but age and health problems have caught up with him. He retired last year.

There is also the capable Balestier Khalsa chairman S Thavaneson, but he is one too few against a tide too strong.

After all these able men are locked up and keys thrown away, what’s left are the ones who have done diddly squat for Singapore football in the last 20 years.

The game here has slid under their watch (Read my story here for Today in July 2015). And yet they will be left standing to do more of the same.

So why bar someone like Ang, if he can be persuaded to return to the game and take the helm at the FAS? He is a savvy businessman and successfully built up Evergreen Shipping and Eva Air here.

He signed Finland national player Sixten Bostrom to play for Geylang when the FAS launched the semi-professional Premier League in 1987. The Finn was the first European pro footballer in Singapore. He raised sponsorship money  for the club in the tens of thousands of dollars, sums unheard of in the 1980s.

As general manager, Ang was also the smarts behind the Lions’ final Malaysia Cup and league double in 1994.

Rules make sense if they are safeguards to keep the unscrupulous out of the game. But insisting candidates must have been active in clubs or at Fifa and AFC does not. It’s simply nonsense because it will keep those who can turn football around from doing so.

What are those lobbying for the rule — again if at all they are — afraid of? If this is part of the proposed changes to the FAS constitution that members must vote on at the Annual General Meeting on 24 September 2016, then they must in good conscience reject it.

Or else wallow in Singapore football’s continued decline.