Bonus blow for players as association fails to find FA Cup sponsor
The forthcoming FA Cup has become the only tournament offering no prize money this season after the association failed to secure a title sponsor.
While both the Senior Shield and the League Cup champions collect a hefty winning bonus of HK$250,000 offered by their respective sponsors, this is not the case for the FA Cup, which was drawn at the Hong Kong Football Association headquarters yesterday.
'The players will be very disappointed,' said Sunray Cave Sun Hei coach Ricardo Rambo, whose side captured the Shield after beating South China in the final. 'In Hong Kong, winning bonuses always play an important role as a strong incentive. But as the coach, I will still ask the players to give their best in every match, with or without prize money.'
Steven Lo Kit-sing, convenor of FA Cup-holders South China, said the association should have asked its board of directors for assistance in finding a sponsor.
'We have the expertise in handling sponsorship matters and are happy to help out,' said Lo, who is also vice chairman of the association. 'But we only found this out late last week and can do little to change it now.'
The annual competition will kick off on Sunday with two first-round matches: Kitchee v Citizen and Sapling v Tuen Mun, both at Mong Kok Stadium.
Both Kitchee and Citizen have the AFC Cup in midweek.
The four semi-finalists from last season - South China, TSW Pegasus, Wofoo Tai Po and Sun Hei - have first-round byes. Two of the remaining six teams will also have first-round byes, as determined by a lucky draw.
'The players will need to be physically and mentally sharp right after their AFC Cup commitment. It is a big challenge to them,' said Kitchee president Ken Ng Kin. 'We will also take on South China in an important league clash the following week, the result of which could have a significant effect on the league championship. We are not blaming anybody but it's a very tough schedule.'
Kitchee, who kicked off with a convincing start in the regional cup tie with a 3-1 victory over Tampines Rovers of Singapore two weeks ago, will play home team Terengganu of Malaysia today.