THE Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA) and Carlsberg Brewery are to discuss a sponsorship deal for the 1997 Lunar New Year tournament.
The contract for the four-nation Carlsberg Cup Lunar New Year tournament expired on Thursday with 1994 World Cup third-placed side Sweden winning the title at the Hong Kong Stadium.
The HKFA chairman Stewart Lee Leung-nang said yesterday the local governing body would negotiate terms and conditions with the brewery, who are also keen to continue their sponsorship.
'Carlsberg have sponsored the tournament for eight Lunar New Years since 1986 and have an option to sponsor the event next year under the condition that they offer a better deal,' Lee said.
Lee added it was unlikely that the HKFA would organise the event on its own.
'The Lunar New Year tournament has become the biggest event in Hong kong football. The guest teams are some of the best in the world.
'It requires a lot of effort and manpower to organise the tournament.
'At this present stage, the HKFA secretariat is unable to handle such a big event. In order to keep the organisation of the tournament, it is better for the HKFA to find a partner to co-host it.' Carlsberg public relations manager Derek Currie said they were looking to extend the contract beyond 1997.
'We are very keen to sponsor the tournament for at least three more years. The Carlsberg Cup has become a very competitive national event since we regained the sponsorship in 1993. Many people are now aware of it and it is also a good competition for the national teams as well.
'I hope we can confirm the deal as soon as possible since the top national sides plan their schedule one year in advance.
'Besides, next year's Lunar New Year will be in early February which is earlier than this year. So, we will have less time to prepare for the tournament.' Currie added the format of the tournament would remain unchanged.
'The format of four competing sides in four matches over two days has proved to be a successful one. I can't see any reason to change it.' Golden midfielder Otis Roberts may snub a call up by East Caribbean country Grenada to play in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers from March 10-31.
Roberts has expressed a wish to play for his club against South China on March 9. Golden president Simon Wan Chi-lok said: 'I understand that clubs are obliged to release players for category A national events but Otis has the right to make his decision.'