Opposition to no-relegation deal grows
The controversial no-relegation arrangement for First Division clubs next season faces strong opposition from officials and is likely to be scrapped at the Hong Kong Football Association board meeting later this month.
The clubs agreed last year, when they decided to expand the 2013/14 season to 12 teams as a transition to the Premier League, there would also be no relegation for three seasons as they hoped to buy time in preparing and settling in the Premier League.
However, since then there appears to have been a change of attitude among several of the leading club bosses.
Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak said he would begin the process of ending the arrangement at next week's technical and playing committee before putting it to the board on May 23 for further discussion.
"I don't think this is the right time to introduce the arrangement," said Leung. "We understand at the moment there are only a few teams which are able to compete for the championship in the league, leaving most of the others have nothing to fight for if there is no relegation. If that happens, who is going to watch these games?
"I am very impressed there were five teams battling to avoid the only relegation spot this season. It created a lot of interest, with the climax of having four matches in the final round kicking off at the same time. While the championship battle between South China and Kitchee was always the main focus, the relegation battle was also exciting. And that's exactly what we are looking for in terms of promoting games in Hong Kong."
Leung noted the China Super League had once adopted a no-relegation system which was soon abolished after a negative response from fans.
"In a long run, we will have to study carefully the relegation system, especially when the Hong Kong Premier League launches in 2014, but in the meantime, it would be better if we have relegation of one team for one more season."