Title sponsor Carlsberg has started its preparations for next year's Lunar New Year tournament, despite the fact that it has not come to an agreement with the Hong Kong Football Association (HKFA).
The beer company's public relations manager, Derek Currie, said yesterday it would invite one or two European sides, from among the qualifiers for next month's European Championship, to compete in the four-nation international tournament.
'We are trying to get as great a variety as possible. We will also look for Asian or African national sides,' said Currie.
Currie said Carlsberg was keen to continue its sponsorship for at least one more year.
'We are very optimistic that we can continue to sponsor the Lunar New Year tournament next year since we have the option,' he said.
'And we are looking to extend our commitment beyond 1997.' Currie added the company would finalise the terms as soon as possible.
'We have been negotiating with the HKFA for four months. We are looking for the terms we both can reasonably agree on.' HKFA marketing agent ISL Asia Pacific has said the sponsors from the HKFA Partner Programme would be able to co-sponsor the Lunar New Year tournament.
'Carlsberg will not oppose the idea as long as there will be no beer brand other than Carlsberg,' said Currie.
It is understood that other companies are interested in sponsoring the tournament.