Rangers in limbo without home pitch

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2011, 12:00am


The boss of First Division club Fourway Rangers said he would rather his side had no home ground for the new season than use the low-grade pitch at Kowloon Bay Park, as suggested by the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA).

Team director Phillip Lee Fai-lap said he inspected the venue on Tuesday and was disappointed by the conditions of the ground.

He said the pitch surface was far from ideal and he saw more than 40 people playing soccer for leisure on it.

'No one can believe it is a venue suitable for top-flight soccer in Hong Kong. I also heard that a number of rugby matches would be held there next season and that would definitely worsen the condition of the pitch.'

'We find it very difficult to accept that we would have to play our home matches in such poor conditions, and if that's the case, we will need to tell the [HKFA] we don't want a home ground next season.'

Opened in 2005, the 1,200-seat Kowloon Bay Park was the home venue in 2009 for First Division side Happy Valley, but they were relegated at the end of that season. Tai Chung suffered the same fate last season.

Rangers have been using Sham Shui Po Sports Ground as their home turf, but the venue will be taken over by the district team in the new season, as they have gained promotion to the First Division.

Consequently, Rangers joined Sun Hei and Citizen in pushing to use the renovated Mong Kok Stadium when it reopens in October after a HK$275 million facelift.

However, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs the venue, allows only two teams to use the Mong Kok Stadium as their home ground.

Brian Leung Hung-tak, HKFA chairman, said he persuaded the Rangers to use the Kowloon Bay Park.

But Lee said his inspection had convinced him that the pitch was totally unsuitable.

'We understand the needs of Citizen as they have qualified for next year's AFC [Asian Football Confederation] Cup and prefer to use a better facility for the regional cup tournament, but Sun Hei have been allocated the Tsing Yi Sports Ground before and they can continue to use the venue if there is no other choice,' Lee said.