South China boss Steven Lo Kit-sing believes the future of Hong Kong soccer lies with the mainland leagues.
His side take on Changchun Yatai in the final of the Chinese New Year Cup in Meizhou today.
"Hong Kong is a small city and it will be difficult to develop our league into a world-class professional competition in terms of factors such as resources, number of fans, marketing strategy," said Lo, who is also vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association. "Soccer has been developing very quickly in China with the establishment of its Super League almost a decade ago and we can make use of their resources to help us.
"What we should do is to send one or two teams to play in the Chinese league where you have a huge market. Imagine if we can have a match against a Chinese side at home every weekend while another team from Hong Kong will be playing away in those big mainland cities. I am sure it can bring a lot of interest and new excitement. Local young players can also aspire to play in a professional league that can offer a better financial future."
Whether Hong Kong should participate in the Chinese league has been under discussion for a long time among the clubs, but there has been no concrete plan from the HKFA.
Mainland media had reported that the Chinese Football Association had given the green light for Hong Kong to enter teams in its First Division before they can challenge for promotion to the Super League.
"The association should set up a task force to study its feasibility as there are a lot of technical problems that also need to be resolved, such as the future AFC Cup representation if two top clubs from Hong Kong are playing in China and whether the domestic league should still exist and in what format," Lo said. "It's not going to be easy because Hong Kong and China govern their soccer development separately. But at least we have to try."
Meanwhile, Lo hopes his charges can keep the momentum as they take on Super League side Changchun Yatai in the Chinese New Year Cup today.
The Caroliners pulled off a surprising 4-1 win over Guangzhou R&F on the opening day to reach the final.
"Our team spirit is high after the victory." Lo said.