New HKFA boss vows to boost game

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 12:00am


The new chief executive of the Hong Kong Football Association last night pledged to devote himself 100 per cent to raising the standard and profile of the game in the city.

'Change agent' Mark Sutcliffe accepted the position yesterday, taking over from Gordon McKie, who fell out of favour with the HKFA less than six months into his three-year contract, believed to be worth more than HK$3 million a year.

Sutcliffe was the obvious candidate for the job, having played an instrumental role in the game's development, firstly as the author of the government's development strategy 'Dare to Dream', and more recently as the official change agent appointed to assess the operations of the HKFA. His raft of recommendations to revitalise the local game was adopted as 'Project Phoenix'.

'The chance to be the CEO is a fantastic opportunity,' Sutcliffe said yesterday. 'In 2009, when working on Dare To Dream, I first saw the potential of football in Hong Kong. Since then, there have been some very positive steps forward, but I am sure everyone would agree, there is still a long way to go.

'I am under no illusions about how important this challenge is and I will devote myself 100 per cent to raising the standard and profile of football in Hong Kong and to delivering that potential.

'My experience through the development of Project Phoenix has helped me build positive relationships with the board of directors, existing staff and other stakeholders. I am sure that collectively, we can become a winning team,' said Sutcliffe, who will assume his duties in September.

Sutcliffe's relationship with the board of directors will be crucial as McKie left with this parting shot: 'The first division clubs dominate the board, so there was a conflict with the guys who run the clubs.'

HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said Sutcliffe 'should have been the obvious pick from the start'.

'Mark brings an ideal skill set to the chief executive officer's role,' Leung said. 'His experience and familiarity with the HKFA dates back to his positive role as a change agent and his impressive contribution to Project Phoenix starting in 2009.

'Mark's knowledge of the structure of the HKFA makes him an outstanding candidate. The HKFA is confident Mark's experience will help increase the profile and growth of football.'