First Division clubs reveal fears for new Hong Kong Premier League
Representatives express dismay at lack of progress on facilities and quality of refereeing to match top tier competition
Lack of progress in key areas of preparation is threatening the success of the new Hong Kong Premier League, club executives warned yesterday.
At a First Division meeting yesterday, member clubs expressed disappointment that many changes necessary for the professional league, scheduled to be launched in September, had not been addressed.
"We have been asked to be a professional club in terms of governance and financial sustainability in order to get a licence for the professional league, but at the same time we see little progress in such areas as upgrading facilities and raising the standard of refereeing," said Sunray Cave Sun Hei representative Chung Chi-kwong.
"We all know about the poor quality of venues and their lack of support facilities, and it is clear there is going to be little improvement by the time September comes around. It's like building a big grand house but with nothing inside. This is not fair, considering the clubs' investment."
BC Rangers executive director Philip Lee Fai-lap queried the fee the clubs now have to pay for live television broadcasts of matches.
"I want to know if there will be sponsors paying for it in the new Premier League, but I was disappointed to find out at the meeting that it is very unlikely," he said.
"The clubs are losing money and the broadcast fee is an additional cost for us. We hope the Football Association can help us solve the problems, but it seems they haven't been able to secure commercial sponsorships."
Each club is required to pay HK$240,000 annually for the broadcasts.
Chung said the HKFA's image had been dented by recent developments such as allegations of match-fixing in the league and that this had weakened confidence among all parties with regard to the professional league.
HKFA chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak admitted launching the league would not solve all the game's problems overnight.
"We understand the clubs' concerns. But if we can set aside our differences and work together, given more time and concerted effort from all parties, I am sure Hong Kong soccer has a bright future," he said.