Deal done to end McKie's brief stay

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2012, 12:00am


The saga over Gordon McKie's future is expected to end today with the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) agreeing a deal to part ways with their first ever chief executive after just six months.

It is understood the HKFA will formally announce a mutually agreed arrangement with the Scot today after all nine board members endorsed the plan. With 48 hours' notice required for an emergency board meeting, the solution was circulated to all members yesterday to end the matter as soon as possible.

Compensation estimated to be two months' salary will be offered to McKie. He signed a three-year deal to occupy the hot seat as an important component of the government's Project Phoenix to revive soccer in Hong Kong and is reported to earn over HK$3 million a year.

None of the board members approached by the Post yesterday was willing to confirm the news, but they admitted negotiations had been under way. 'If the chief executive cannot work with the board and no solution can be worked out between the two, the best way is to find a replacement,' one said. 'But since McKie is the first ever HKFA chief executive, we have to handle the matter carefully or it will leave a bad image in the eyes of the government, the clubs and the fans.'

McKie, who returned to Hong Kong last week after an unusual three-week break, chose to remain silent on his future, while Hong Kong team coach Ernie Merrick, picked by McKie for the job, also refused to comment.

But a source close to the issue from the beginning said this was the best possible solution.

'We know the chief executive has differences with the board in many aspects, including the extent of how to implement Project Phoenix,' said the source. 'As the two parties find it too difficult to work together, it is better someone leaves so that the board can find another person to lead the project.'

While the board looks for a new chief, chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak will take up most of the responsibility with the assistance from individual committee chairmen.

The HKFA considers a worldwide search too time consuming and will instead interview other candidates who were on the shortlist recommended by the head-hunting company appointed last year. It is believed Mark Sutcliffe, who conducted the soccer consultancy report for the government in 2010 and was later appointed the 'change agent' of the HKFA to implement the changes in the report, is on the list.

McKie was third choice. The HKFA's top pick, Paul Thorogood, chief executive of the Football Foundation in Britain - the largest sports charity financed by the Premier League - turned down an offer. McKie, whose role at the Scottish Rugby Union was laced with controversy - he clashed with sponsors, broadcasters and even fans - was approached after another unidentified candidate also rejected the job.


Annual subsidy, in HK dollars, that the government's Project Phoenix gives the HKFA