Top fixtures and glamour games for new stadium
By JEREMY WALKER
THE Hong Kong Football Association are planning to hold at least 14 fixtures at the Hong Kong Stadium before the end of the season.
In a revised schedule released yesterday, the FA have made tentative bookings for the semi-finals and final of the Viceroy Cup and the FA Cup, as well as four dates for the end-of-season Super League.
The FA have reserved 14 dates, starting with Saturday, March 19 - the weekend after the official opening of the new $850 million stadium and the weekend before the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
The match pencilled in for that date is a First Division game between South China and Eastern - but this will be delayed if South China can use the slot to play the home leg of their Asian Cup Winners' Championship final against Saudi Arabia's Al Qadisiyah.
Through the Hong Kong FA, South China have booked the stadium on Friday, April 1, for an exhibition match.
The semi-finals of the Viceroy Cup - the most prestigious of the three domestic knockout tournaments - have been booked for Sunday, April 3, and Tuesday, April 5, with the final at the stadium on Sunday, April 17.
The FA Cup semi-finals and final are scheduled for May 1, 3 and 8, while Eastern have booked Wednesday, May 11, for an exhibition match. Eastern are understood to have lined up English Premiership side Sheffield Wednesday and are close to agreeing a sponsorship deal.
Four dates, from May 16 to May 26, have been put aside for the six-team Super League, which will involve the top four finishers in the First Division, plus two teams from overseas sponsored by Hong Kong companies.
One company is believed to be negotiating with a Russian club to play as their representative.
The final match of the season at the stadium will be the Interport Cup between Hong Kong and Shanghai on Sunday, May 29.
The FA's chief executive officer, Vincent Yuen, stressed that the bookings were still tentative because the FA had not reached agreement with stadium managers Wembley International (Hong Kong) Ltd over the basic hire charge of $150,000 a day or 20 per cent of the gate receipts, whichever figure is higher.
''We have proposed a one-off payment of $1.5 million for 10 dates and are waiting for their reply,'' Yuen said.
''We cannot keep waiting because we need to make a tentative schedule and let people know our intentions.
''We need the stadium but the problem is that it is now so expensive, so we are fighting for a better deal,'' he added.
Once again the Hong Kong FA have ruled Football Club's ground at Happy Valley as not suitable for First Division football.
This means tonight's game between Club and Kui Tan has been scheduled for Shamshuipo Sports Ground on Monday, January 31.