HK's top two coaches face hefty pay cuts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 April, 2006, 12:00am

But others will benefit when a new salary structure is in place

The two top coaches at the Hong Kong Sports Institute (HKSI) are facing a hefty cut in their remuneration as the government's elite training agency tries to rationalise the pay scale of coaching staff.

Rene Appel, head windsurfing coach, and head rowing coach Chris Perry could find themselves out of pocket by $400,000 a year if the plan goes ahead.

Other coaches at the HKSI, notably those from the mainland, on the other hand, could see their pay rise significantly.

A report compiled by a government-appointed agency recommends a pay package for head coaches that would range from $600,000 to $1.3 million. This would include a base salary, allowances and gratuity. The report has been accepted in principle by the HKSI board.

The new package would mean a substantial pay cut for Appel and Perry, who are believed to earn between $1.6 million and $1.73 million a year each.

But both Appel and Perry, who are currently on overseas training stints with their athletes, will not be affected immediately as their contracts run to March next year.

However, a number of head coaches who are earning below the proposed new minimum wage have been told that they will be given a pay rise backdated to April 2005.

Details of the new pay structure have yet to be announced by the management of the HKSI.

It is believed there will be three salary levels for the head coaches, starting from level one (monthly salary between $35,000 to $45,000 plus allowances and gratuity) to the highest level three ($55,000 to $65,000 plus allowances and gratuity).

The HKSI has yet to decide at which level each coach will be placed.

'Our priority is to ensure that those who are underpaid are first at the minimum level under the new scale before we decide how to implement the entire salary structure proposed by the consultant,' an HKSI official said yesterday.

A number of head coaches who are now earning more than the minimum are unhappy that there is no time scale for implementing the consultants' recommendations. It is learned that they have written a letter to the HKSI board to voice their discontent and to urge an early decision on the issue.

'For the past two years, we have been told there would be a salary review for the coaches, but so far the only thing we know is that a report has been compiled,' said one head coach.

'Hong Kong sports have been making great progress over the last couple of years, but a properly structured pay scale is still not in place to reward our achievement and performance.

'We sincerely hope that necessary arrangements will be made at the earliest to reflect appropriately our effort and contribution to the performances of the elite athletes.'

With the approach of the Doha Asian Games in December, the coach was worried that morale might be undermined and Hong Kong competitors might not repeat the success they had in Pusan, South Korea, four years ago, when they won a record four gold, six silver and 11 bronze medals.