Inaugural Hong Kong Premier League receives HK$1.2 million cash boost
The new season kicks off with a new sponsor as HK$1.2 million will be up for grabs for its nine teams - four times the amount last season
The inaugural Hong Kong Premier League will put a hefty HK$1.2 million in prize money up for grabs for its nine teams, with the champions taking home almost half a million dollars, it was announced yesterday.
The figure is four times more than that on offer last season in the final edition of the First Division, where champions Kitchee collected the winning purse of HK$300,000. No other teams received any cash award.
In the new league, all teams get to share in the pot, with the champions receiving HK$480,000 and HK$216,000 for the runners-up. Even the team finishing last can earn HK$24,000.
The new league has also secured a title sponsor in BOCG Life, a subsidiary of a prominent bank. The Hong Kong Football Association has signed a one-year contract with the company, but terms were not disclosed.
A solidarity fund with HK$500,000 will also be set up to help clubs that need additional financial support.
Kicking off with the match between Kitchee and Wofoo Tai Po on September 12, the Premier League, a major component of the government's Phoenix Project, is an important milestone in the development of Hong Kong soccer, says HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe.
"The rationale for the new league is to raise the standard of local soccer, to create more excitement and to get more people watching," said Sutcliffe. "We are delighted BOCG Life has become our partner in this exciting venture."
To protect the integrity of the game from match-fixing, a top international sports watchdog has been appointed to monitor all matches, while all players will be asked to sign a code of ethics. Education programmes on illegal betting and doping will also be given to the players.
The inauguration of the new league coincides with celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the HKFA and chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak appealed for more support from the clubs and the fans.
"All these new measures will contribute to the betterment of Hong Kong soccer and we look forward to more progress in future with continued support from all parties involved," he said.
"Soccer has been in Hong Kong for a very long period and the introduction of the new league will put us on the right track."
New South China convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung noted that the prize money was minimal compared with his club's season budget of HK$20 million, but said "we hope this is just the beginning and if more people are attracted to the games, it can have a snowball effect."