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  • Jul 11, 2014
  • Updated: 2:41pm

Barclays Asia Trophy 2013

The Barclays Asia Trophy was played in Hong Kong from July 24 to 27 and saw Sunderland, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and South China compete. Manchester City were the winners, beating Sunderland 1–0 in the final. The tournament was dogged by issues with Hong Kong Stadium's waterlogged pitch, which was blamed for an ankle injury sustained by Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.

NewsHong Kong

Staff of sodden Hong Kong Stadium pitch not up to scratch, official admits

Leisure and cultural services chief admits in Legco that employees do not meet world standards, but says no one will be punished

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 November, 2013, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 November, 2013, 7:52am

Staff members in charge of the pitch at the Hong Kong Stadium in Causeway Bay are not up to international standards, the government has admitted.

But no one will be punished for the fiasco in July when the state of the pitch almost caused an international exhibition match to be cancelled.

Leisure and Cultural Services director Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, said employees working at the stadium cared very much for the condition of the pitch, but "there may be a discrepancy between their professional standards and the international standards of managing pitches".

"We understand that we have to improve ourselves," Fung told lawmakers yesterday.

She said more training would be provided to staff members taking care of government pitches in the next five years.

Fung was addressing the Legislative Council home affairs panel in the face of criticism that no one in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department was being held accountable for the near-cancellation of the match between British Premier League team Manchester United and local champions Kitchee.

"Now that the department has admitted it was negligent and did something wrong … people will ask, 'Is there anyone who should be held responsible and punished?'," Kenneth Chan Ka-lok of the Civic Party said.

People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen asked whether the incident involved any serious dereliction of duty or mismanagement that warranted punishment for anyone.

Fung replied: "It's for sure that [the management of the stadium] made an error of judgment", but no one would be punished.

"It's not that an official can take all the responsibility," she said. "Some factors were related to weather conditions. Some were because of the management's inability to react to an emergency … But we've asked them to improve."

Staff members responsible for taking care of the department's pitches would take turns to be sent for training, locally or internationally, in the next five years.

The department would also set up a specialised in-house team to provide professional advice on managing pitches and a foreign expert might be appointed to head the team.

The quality of the pitch at the city's top stadium became an embarrassment internationally for Hong Kong in July during the Barclays Asia Trophy and United exhibition match. British media referred to it as a "killer" pitch.

The pitch was sodden and muddy after days of torrential rain and bald patches appeared in the centre of the field where grass had been kicked up.

Turf experts were consulted in late August. They suggested the department replace the pitch in the first quarter of 2015 at an estimated HK$100 million. The stadium spends about HK$2.3 million a year in manpower and materials for pitch maintenance.


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If its own staff are not up to the job, LCSD should ask an organisation which keeps the best grass tracks in Hong Kong, the Jockey Club.
the whole problem STARTED with the HKJC 'expert'
their then 'expert' designed the pitch structure based on a racecourse profile and added Netlon to the sand as used in the race course (for protection from horse hooves)
They used a system called Strathayr
He ignored Wembley UK's groundsman's advice
No matter how much they spend they will not grow grass in the shaded areas caused by the steep stands blocking sunlight - no sunlight = no photosynthesis
Then you need windflow for transpiration and no microclimate study was done so different areas of the pitch get little wind and little sunlight and different temperatures
If the minister has any dignity, she will not only hold the officials responsible for maintenance the grounds, but also resign herself.
But then, which government official hold himself or herself responsible these days ? Is is not time for the Central Government to interfere and forgot about the 50 years of independent governance in HK ? We cannot afford such nonsense !
When was the Central Government ever accountable or transparent? If LCSD did it their way a large portion of the funding would be deposited in offshore company bank accounts.
I guess that's how the government runs nowadays, do something wrong or not up to standard, no consequences for your wrongdoings.
**** up a pitch and make a mockery of Hong Kong's image - "Of course we were wrong, but I don't think anyone should be fired."
Paul Chan: "Of course I am a corrupt minister, but I don't think I should lose my high paying job."
They really weren't lying when they said that Public Service jobs are pretty much impossible to get fired from.
If a groundskeeper earns $15k x 13 months = $200k per year, then the stadium's entire turf maintenance budget of $2.3 million covers 11 guys and a couple of lawn mowers. No wonder the pitch is in lousy shape.


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