Shield champions Tai Po fear going out of business
Despite their success yesterday, club might quit next season because of financial difficulties
Newly crowned Canbo Senior Shield champions Wofoo Tai Po threatened to quit domestic soccer after their Shield victory over Citizen in the final at Hong Kong Stadium yesterday.
The New Territories side deserved the cup - their first Shield title since winning promotion to the top flight in 2006. They came back from two goals down to level the score at 2-2, forcing the match into the extra-time before winning the penalty shoot-out 5-3.
But club secretary Chan Ping dropped a bombshell after the sensational win, saying they might not be able to survive next season due to financial reasons.
"I don't know if we can start next season," Chan said. "We are already suffering a shortfall of HK$800,000 this season out of a HK$6 million budget and although I am confident this can be sorted out, I am not sure about next season.
"As a district team, we receive HK$500,000 a season from the government and have to raise the rest of the budget ourselves. Tai Po have been in the First Division for six years and most of our commercial sponsorships are on a three-year deal.
"Now, it's going to be very difficult for us next season, as there is little return for the sponsors. I don't know if these sponsors will continue to support us."
Chan said the government's Project Phoenix, devised to revive the local game, had had little impact so far. "We need financial support and Project Phoenix does not really help. It's not only us, other district teams such as Tuen Mun and Southern face the same financial problems. The district teams were set up by the government and they have the responsibility to help us."
Meanwhile, Tai Po coach Cheung Po-chun said his priority remained on the pitch as his side still risked relegation in the league. Tai Po are only two points in front of cellar dwellers Sun Hei in the standings.
"I can't do too much on the financial side as this is the responsibility of the management," Cheung said. "But I must fulfill my job as the coach to win the relegation battle and having witnessed the performance of my boys in today's final, I am very confident.
"Despite going down two goals, they battled hard for the equaliser and their hard work and effort paid off."