Two-phase league to stay
THE Hong Kong First Division will continue to adopt the J.League-style format next season after figures showed a significant increase in match attendances this season.
According to the data released by the Hong Kong Football Association, the 90-match league attendance this season - excluding the forthcoming play-off at the end of next month - is 239,329, an 11.68 per cent increase from last season's 211,379.
The HKFA adopted the J.League format which divided the league into two phases this season - South China won the first phase and Instant-Dict are the second phase champions.
The sides will meet in the play-off on May 30 at the Hong Kong Stadium to decide the league champions this season.
HKFA deputy chief executive officer Miranda Yu said the J.League format was more exciting than the traditional format.
'Teams who failed to win the first phase still have a chance in the second phase,' said Yu. 'This season, the second phase winners were only determined in the final game.' Yu confirmed the format would continue next season.
The league gate receipts this season have also risen by three per cent from $14.01 million to $14.44 million, held down by low-priced student and senior citizen tickets.
Meanwhile, South China duo Lee Kin-wo and Alen Bajkusa have turned down offers from Chinese Professional League side Guangdong Hongyuan.