'Busy' Ng quits as director of HKFA
Influential club official Ken Ng Kin dropped a bombshell last night by resigning as a director of the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) board, just six months after he was elected for a four-year term under the government's Phoenix Project that is designed to revive the game in the city.
Ng broke the news at a meeting of the First Division clubs, saying the heavy workload with his club Kitchee had forced him to make the decision.
'The association is now moving on the right track following the appointment of the chief executive and head coach,' Ng said. 'I think it's time for me to go and focus on club affairs.
'Some might say I should have stayed on the board, but as a director I would want to have the time to do my best. When I stood for the elections in June I did not think that handling the affairs of Kitchee would take up so much of my time.'
Ng cited Kitchee's soccer academy, their AFC Cup campaign, the defence of their First Division title and the hosting of a foreign team in an international friendly in July as reasons for his heavy workload.
As a member of the HKFA board, Ng was also chairman of the association's finance and strategy committee and a member of the marketing and communications committee and the organisation development committee. He will now step down from all these posts
His departure deals a blow to the government's effort to revive the sport through the Phoenix Project. 'Everybody knows Ng has been putting a lot of effort into making the project work and his premature departure leaves a hole. It is also bad for the HKFA's image,' said an HFKA official, who asked to remain anonymous.
It is believed HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak had asked Ng to stay, but to no avail. Neither Leung nor HKFA chief executive Gordon McKie was available for comment last night.
It was rumoured that Ng's departure was connected to differences with another director over the appointment of coaches for the junior teams as well as assistants to new head coach Ernie Merrick.
But Ng rejected such claims. 'I have had differences with many people at the HKFA for over 30 years, but it was never personal,' he said. 'It is normal to have different views and I would have resigned a long time ago if the rumours are to be believed. The truth is I simply have too many other things to handle with Kitchee and do not want to occupy a position on the board if I am unable to contribute in a meaningful way.'
But there was some good news for Kitchee as their new signing - Zesh Rehman - arrived last night on a 11/2-year contract. Born in Birmingham to Pakistani parents, the 28-year-old central defender was the first British Asian to start a match in the Premier League when he made his debut for Fulham in 2004 at Anfield against Liverpool. He is also the first to have played in all four divisions of professional soccer in England. He signed a two-year contract with Muangthong United of Thailand last year, but after just 30 appearances for the club has decided to move to Hong Kong.
Ng said Kitchee did not pay the Thai club a transfer fee, but Rehman, who is also the captain of the Pakistan national team, will likely be one of the highest-paid players in Hong Kong.
He will be key to Kitchee's hopes in their AFC Cup campaign, which kicks off in March, as well as the defence of their First Division title. Kitchee are in second place, behind TSW Pegasus, at the halfway stage.