By Bhas Kunju
Just hours after announcing the biggest news so far of the upcoming 2013 S.League season, Singapore Armed Forces FC (SAFFC) had bad news to break.
The Warriors, who were invited to the Chonburi Cup 2013 alongside Busan IPark of South Korea and Becamex Binh Duong of Vietnam, announced their withdrawal from the competition which was set to be played from January 24 to 30.
According to organisers, Chonburi FC, SAFFC sent the Thai club an official letter citing financial difficulties as the reason for withdrawal.
Chonburi also confirmed that they had offered to cover all the expenses that exceeded the budget of the Warriors, but were rebuffed by the Singapore Cup holders who insisted on withdrawing.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday to announce the signing of Kazuyuki Toda, SAFFC General Manager Chong Wei Chiang, added that the former Japan international came at a significant cost.
"One thing I can say is that, Toda doesn't come cheap," said Chong when asked on the cost of signing the S.League's first big signing of the season.
"But, sorry, I can't really disclose [the actual costs]. But I think he will definitely justify his price tag."
Svolme, who are the new apparel sponsors for SAFFC, are believed to have been behind the facilitation of Toda's transfer.
Speaking to Goal.com Singapore on the alleged financial difficulties, Chong confirmed the Warriors' withdrawal from Chonburi Cup but stated that the club was still under budget for the trip.
"I have checked with my Head Coach V.Selvaraj and he has clarified that it's still under the budget to make the trip," said the former Republic Polytechnic facilitator. "Hence, it's not about the financial difficulties. However, he (Selvaraj) has his reservations and considerations of the non-participation. We respect and will stand by his decision made."
Chong also confirmed that Chonburi did offer to help finance the trip but that it came late and after alternative arrangements had been made.
"It was noted that the kind offer by Chonburi came a bit late and Head Coach had already made plans to play friendlies in Bangkok," he added.
"Nonetheless, we are indeed thankful to be considered and many apologies as well for the inconvenience caused. Although we are unable to participate this time around, trust that we would be able to do so in the very near future."SAFFC kick-started their pre-season preparations on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over fellow S.League side Woodlands Wellington.
The Singapore team's place in Chonburi Cup 2013 has been taken by a Thai side, with Pattaya United, Suphanburi FC, Muangthong United rounding off the six-team competition.