FA plays down record low Cup turnout

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2007, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Football Association is expected to finish in the black despite a record low turnout for the Lunar New Year Cup.

About 28,000 spectators passed through the gates, including just 13,564 fans who attended Wednesday night's final won by the Jamaica Olympic team.

It was the first time the Hong Kong FA had invited national Olympic teams to the annual showpiece, which traditionally is the main source of revenue for the association for the season.

The under-23 Olympic squads of China and Australia completed the line-up with the Hong Kong League XI and despite the worst crowd attendances since the tournament's inception in 1983, the Hong Kong FA should still earn a profit thanks to gate receipts and TV rights. 'The matches were beamed live to Australia and China,' said a FA spokesman. 'Overall, we are not entirely disappointed with the gate figures. The FA financed the tournament itself since we had no title sponsor, although we managed to attract eight sponsors, which helped keep costs down.'

The Hong Kong FA made this year's ticket prices the cheapest in years with students enjoying a massive discount. Students were able to enjoy all four matches on both days for just HK$60 - and that included the price of admission for tonight's friendly between local club South China and visiting J.League side Yokohama Marinos. The most expensive tickets were priced at HK$320 for a two-day package.

Kwok Ka-ming, the Hong Kong FA's technical adviser, said the national governing body would have to come to terms with that fact that it was getting harder to attract quality national teams.

'It's never easy for promoters to find teams to come here because the international calendar is full. It's also difficult for the tournament to fall on a Fifa Day, which helps guarantee better players who would be released by clubs,' said Kwok. He also argued the national team would not have fared much worse than the Hong Kong League XI, who finished last in the tournament after losing to Jamaica and then Australia on penalties.

'If the national team plays well, the crowd will support them and we might have had a slightly bigger crowd. We still managed to attract 28,000 spectators, which isn't bad when you consider that we didn't have any top stars,' continued Kwok. 'If the Hong Kong League XI had reached the final, we might have had a bigger crowd too. But this year's team was just ordinary compared to squads of the past.'