Patriarch Yuen out to rescue Flower

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2001, 12:00am

Double Flower founder Yuen Sun, who has been witness to the ups and downs of Hong Kong soccer since the 1960s, said he was '90 per cent' certain that he would be able to form a team in the First Division for the coming season.

The 70-year-old said he has lived and breathed the game for the past 40 years and did not want to see the team disappear and young players lose jobs after defunct Instant-Dict returned their FA membership to him following their withdrawal from the top flight in June.

Yuen said he still needs to confirm the venture with his major sponsors, which include Instant-Dict president Thomas Tam Wai-tong, director Fung Wing-kan and a South Korean businessman in partnership with former Dickies left-winger Kim Pan-gon.

'I'll be able to finalise the sponsorship in the next couple of days. I don't have a solid idea about the size of the budget for the team but it won't be a big one. The team's going to be made up of mostly local young players because I can't afford to sign foreign players,' he said.

'I also want to help the youngsters who played for Instant last season. They are facing the danger of losing jobs. Also, if I don't form a team, I will have to forfeit Double Flower's membership with the FA because you can't keep it without taking part. I don't want to see this happen,' Yuen said. It is also understood that veteran midfielder Kim is likely to be the Double Flower player-coach.

Meanwhile, First Division managers decided yesterday that the league will kick off on September 19 at Hong Kong Stadium, where reigning league champions Happy Valley will take on strengthened South China, who recently signed star Ricky Cheng Siu-chung.

FA Cup losing finalists Caroliners were also awarded the right to represent Hong Kong in the Asian Cup-Winners' Cup after both FA Cup champions Instant and Shield winners Yee Hope pulled out of the league. It has also been decided that the format for the league will remain the same except for one change - the second phase will not be divided into championship playoffs and relegation playoffs because there are only seven teams.

A Super Cup with lucrative prize money and featuring four teams - two each from Hong Kong and the Chinese First Division League - will be held in January. The SAR's First Division sides will also play home-and-away to Guangdong team Ming Fung, who become the first mainland team to join the league.