Soccer boss Brian Leung says Project Phoenix is ready to take off in earnest
The Hong Kong Football Association is keen to make up for lost time as new chief executive Mark Sutcliffe renewed his pledge to reform the game.
"We have lost almost a year in Project Phoenix," HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said yesterday. "But we are back on the right path with Sutcliffe on board and we expect everything to get started soon."
The project, a comprehensive programme initiated by the government to revive the game in all aspects, was due to appoint the association's first chief executive in September last year, but the first choice turned down an offer and the second, former head of the Scottish Rugby Union Gordon McKie, fell out with the HKFA after less than six months in the hot seat.
"Sutcliffe has a good knowledge of soccer in Hong Kong and I believe his arrival will lead us to the next phase of development," said Leung.
Sutcliffe, who was the principal author of the project, said yesterday: "I intend to do everything within my power to deliver Project Phoenix and to lead the change process.
"Soccer in Hong Kong has massive potential and Project Phoenix is about harnessing that enthusiasm and interest and channelling some of it into the domestic game."
He had been previously employed by the government as the consultant to provide a wide range of recommendations for the improvement and development of the game and recently as the change agent for the HKFA to prepare the project.
His four major targeted areas are raising the standard at high performance level, increasing the strength of the professional game, broadening the remit of the HKFA to be the "guardian" of all soccer activities in the city and developing the HKFA into a world-class national sports association.