Yee Hope to quit as FA woos mainland
Hong Kong First Division survivors Yee Hope are '90 per cent' sure of withdrawing from the league next season. President Joe Chan revealed his club's disillusionment yesterday, saying: 'I am 90 per cent sure my club will pull out. I'm disappointed with the whole climate in local football. It's not worth investing so much money a year.
'Many players just don't act like professionals, both on and off the field,' added Chan, who is believed to have spent nearly $8 million last year but saw his team finish fifth of the eight teams in the league despite ending the season in style by beating Instant-Dict 1-0 in the Senior Challenge Shield final. If Chan carries out his threat it will be the first time Hong Kong's top flight has involved less than eight teams.
The FA, stunned by the sharp drop in attendances, has confirmed that Guangdong team Ming Fung will join the First Division next season. It also announced a possible 'Hong Kong-mainland league' featuring First Division teams from China. The tournament would be held between December and March.
'We've spoken to five teams including Dalian, Shanghai, Qingdao and Shenzhen and some of them have shown interest in competing here,' FA vice-chairman Ken Ng said. 'The details as to what the format will be, which teams will represent Hong Kong and who should pay the mainland team's expenses when they travel to Hong Kong have yet been finalised.'
Ng stressed it was time to face up to the lack of quality sides in the SAR. 'It's all about the quality of the product. It doesn't matter where the new teams come from. Yes, in the past few years we have had eight teams in the First Division, but some of them such as Po Chai Pills and Kitchee [both relegated] were just there to make up the numbers.
'There are just not enough good local players. If we lift the level of competition, then the fans will come back and it'll be easier for us to find sponsors, hence offering lucrative prize money for the league and cup tournaments,' Ng said.