Happy Valley weighing legal action over football ban

Club threatens HKFA over 'unviable' verdict and suspension after game-fixing allegations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 10:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 10:56pm

Happy Valley are considering legal action after being suspended by the Hong Kong Football Association for the remainder of the season. The First Division club said on Thursday night that the HKFA's accusation of financial unsustainability was against procedural justice.

"The decision was made without any grounds as we have already put in a HK$2 million deposit in a solicitor's firm for the club's expenses in the second half of the season," said Happy Valley Athletic Association (HVAA) chairman Pui Kwan-kay.

"We have no idea of why they made such an accusation for which they have never provided any justification. We reserve the right to take the case to court."

Last week, the HKFA board approved its ad hoc committee's recommendations, saying the HVAA (the parent body of the Happy Valley soccer team) had not provided evidence to show the club is financially viable.

The committee concluded the club's governance and financial management this season had fallen below the standard expected of a professional team in the First Division and recommended charging the club with bringing the game into disrepute. But the HKFA said it would not make the grounds for the decisions public for reasons of confidentiality and commercially sensitivity.

"This is unacceptable," said Pui, who is also one of the two HKFA vice-chairmen. "If we were punished, we want to know why. We want to know how we bring soccer into disrepute and why we are financially unsound.

"HVAA have been in Hong Kong for more than 60 years and is one of the most established athletic clubs. We are also running many other sports, such as track and field, swimming and basketball, and have all made great contributions to Hong Kong sports as a whole. The accusations have already tarnished our reputation."

He also slammed the HKFA, saying its decisions were legally invalid. "[Our] advice has found the HKFA Articles of Association have not granted the HKFA board to set up any rules which form the base of [these] decisions. This is just a joke," he said.

The Happy Valley saga started in January when six players were arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) for alleged match-fixing. However, the HKFA had stated the ad hoc committee's remit was an investigation into the "viability" of Happy Valley as a club. It would specifically not look at match fixing as that is being investigated by the ICAC.

Tuen Mun were also suspended for failing to show they are a viable club.