Clubs lay claim to revamped Mong Kok
Soccer clubs are concerned over who will get top priority at the renovated Mong Kok Stadium when the popular venue reopens in September.
After a HK$275 million upgrade, three First Division clubs - Citizen, Fourway Rangers and Sun Hei - have asked to use the stadium as their home ground. But it is believed that the owner of the facility, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, has reservations over the number of clubs using it.
Potentially adding to the congestion, Hong Kong Rugby Football Union chairman Trevor Gregory said he was exploring the possibility of using the stadium to host HSBC Asian Five Nations (A5N) home games.
Citizen boss Pui Kwan-kay, who is also the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA), said it would be a huge blow to the sport if their request was rejected.
'The stadium has a convenient location and most important, there is a long tradition of fans watching soccer matches there,' said Pui.
'In the past, most First Division matches were held at the stadium but now only three clubs have asked to use it as their home ground. I don't believe the number is a concern.
'The government has spent a great deal of money making it a modern facility and if we are going to stage fewer matches at the stadium than before, this is ridiculous. And who will believe the government is keen to help revive the sport in Hong Kong?'
Pui said Citizen also hoped to stage their AFC Cup group matches at the stadium. 'We will be making our AFC Cup debut and if we can play at a venue which we are used to, it will definitely help,' he said.
Vincent Yuen Man-chuen, general secretary of the HKFA, said they had submitted a proposal to use the stadium as the home ground for three clubs.
'We are in the process of negotiation with the government,' said Yuen. 'There were more than a hundred matches a season held [there] before, but the number can be reduced to half if three teams use it for their home matches plus some major cup competitions.'
Hong Kong played both their A5N rugby games in front of full houses at the 2,500-capacity Hong Kong Football Club this season. A move to Mong Kok, with its new capacity of 6,650, appeals, admitted HKRFU's Gregory.
'Our initial thoughts are to play our international fixtures in the A5N at Mong Kok Stadium. At the moment we have no plans to hold any domestic games there,' Gregory said.
Number of years spent renovating the stadium
- Normal practice is for one team to have a facility as its home ground