Millions of dollars at stake in FA vote
Hong Kong Football Association officials are expecting 100 per cent support tonight in the vote to revolutionise the game in the city, with millions of dollars riding on the decision.
Forty-seven of the 53 HKFA members will attend an extraordinary general meeting to vote on a crucial amendment to the association's constitution. The HKFA has long been accused of poor governance and a lack of transparency in policymaking.
If 75 per cent (36 members) agree millions of dollars of public funding will be injected into the sport through the government's 'Phoenix Project' in the coming years.
The government has clearly stated the HKFA must improve its governance and structure before it hands over more money.
Six members have chosen not to attend the meeting in a show of dissent, according to a person close to the HKFA.
'The voting will be conducted openly as members have to raise their hands if they support the change. There is no secret balloting,' the person said. 'Those who vote against it will be seen by others and will be condemned as opposing the changes. No one wants to bear that reputation.'
Officials are expecting unanimous support from the 47 members, although the change of HKFA articles may upset the powerbase of existing members.
'The changes will make the organisation more open, transparent and effective. I see no reason whey they will turn them down,' HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said. 'We have spent a great deal of effort persuading members over the past couple of weeks and they all understand the changes are for the sake of saving Hong Kong soccer.'
Once the changes have been approved, formal ratification of the new articles of the HKFA will be required at the association's annual general meeting in June, but that should be a formality.
The HKFA will start the reforms immediately, with the selection of a head-hunting firm to recruit a chief executive and a new Hong Kong team manager.
The chief executive will have a team of directorates to form the HKFA's administrative body, while the team manager will be responsible for preparing Hong Kong teams at various age-group levels for major events, including the World Cup, Olympics, Asian Games, National Games and other regional contests.
A professional 'premier league' will be created on a franchise basis to replace the existing First Division with the target date set for next year.
A former civil servant from the Home Affairs Bureau, the government's sport policy bureau, will also join the HKFA on a six-month contract once the changes have been approved tonight.
The new officer will help the HKFA apply for government subvention through the Arts and Sport Development Fund to create the new posts and related expenditure. In July last year, the government injected HK$1.5 billion into the sports portion of the fund, with the investment returns to be used to support various sports, in particular team sports.
The key proposals
1 New association members will not be limited to clubs but can include groups representing players, referees, and coaches, or other agencies if they are compliant with the membership criteria
2 New members will be accepted by the assembly (comprising all members) and not the board as before
3 Applicants will be required to join a soccer forum to discuss the issues facing the game, and make comments and suggestions to the assembly
4 All board directors will be elected at the AGM every four years, including the president and chairman. Directors and the chairman will not be eligible for re-election after serving a maximum of two terms, while the president can stay in the position for four terms
5 Four directors can have a link to clubs and the remaining three will be independent, with no interest in any member club
6 A league to be known as the 'premier league' will be formed and a new company set up (a subsidiary of the HKFA initially) to administer it'