Directors 'should cover HK$2m deficit'
Directors of the Hong Kong Football Association have been asked to bail out the organisation by providing interest-free loans against a deficit of HK$2 million.
With the current financial year due to end in June, the association is already facing a cash-flow crisis.
'An audit report has been submitted which states clearly the critical financial situation,' said Steven Lo Kit-sing, a member of the HKFA's finance task force.
'As there is no significant income in the next couple of months, we have already proposed that the HKFA directors provide free loans to solve the deficit. We believe this is the only solution or the association will face difficulties in maintaining its operations.'
Pui Kwan-kei, vice-chairman of the HKFA, said they would contribute if asked to do so, but admitted they would also need to identify new revenue resources to prevent a repeat. 'The FA's income is getting smaller and smaller and we must identify more resources in the long run to avoid the same situation happening again,' he said.
'The directors have the responsibility to help the organisation, but we cannot do it on a regular basis.'
There are nine directors, including president Timothy Fok Tsun-ting and chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak. Pui refused to say if all the directors would share the burden, but it is believed Leung would have to contribute the most as chairman.
The HKFA receives a government subvention through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's sports subvention scheme. In 2009-10, the annual subvention was about HK$7.5 million, of which HK$1.54 million was for administration and HK$5.96 million for programme expenses, with the bulk going to the organisation of youth development programmes (HK$4.4 million).
Therefore, the HKFA has to make up the balance of its HK$20 million budget mainly through a 5 per cent levy on gate receipts of local matches, commercial sponsors, and the organisation of tournaments that involve overseas teams.
However, its financial situation has deteriorated in recent years, especially after the withdrawal of long-term Lunar New Year Cup partner Carlsberg in 2007. In the past, the brewery company guaranteed the HKFA revenue of HK$3 million to underwrite the tournament, but it quit over difficulties in securing quality participants.
In 2008, the HKFA staged the tournament on its own, with Penarol, of Uruguay, Ulsan Hyundai, of South Korea, and Croatia's Hajduk Split as invited teams, but a HK$6 million sponsorship fee from the tournament title sponsor failed to cover costs and the HKFA ended up paying HK$4 million out of its own pocket.
The HKFA forfeited this year's Lunar New Year tournament, leaving local club Kitchee to host a downsized event featuring only one team from South Korea - the reigning Asian Champions League winners Pohang Steelers - who played against them and another local team, Pegasus, in a one-day tournament. It is believed Kitchee still incurred a loss of HK$300,000.
Vincent Yuen Mun-chuen, the HKFA's general secretary, said it was planning more international tournaments involving the Hong Kong team in the next financial year.
'The Hong Kong team has always had the support of fans, especially when they do well on the international stage. As we have to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Games qualifying rounds and the Guangzhou Asian Games, we need to arrange more matches for Hong Kong; hopefully it will generate more income.'