South China official blasts the professionalism of the Hong Kong Premier League saying fans no longer care about the competition
Lam Tai-fai hits out at the league organisers as he discloses more details of the club’s withdrawal from next season’s competition
A senior official at South China hit out at the Hong Kong Premier League on Wednesday as more details of the club’s withdrawal from next season’s competition were disclosed.
Lam Tai-fai, who sponsors the youth development programme at South China, questioned the professionalism of the competition this season after organisers allowed amateur outfit Hong Kong Football Club to participate as well as a Guangzhou R&F youth development side. The Chinese Super League club arranged prior to the start of last season that they would send a development squad to compete in the Hong Kong competition.
The two teams finished bottom and second-bottom of the league table.
During a radio interview, Lam said he was willing to put up HK$3 million per year for the club but could not be its sole financier.
A former LegCo member, Lai was also appointed by the government as the Sports Institute chairman in April.
He said there were many reasons for South China’s decision to quit the Premier League, which he suggested is no longer popular among supporters.
“The Premier League is not so popular,” said Lam. “There are 11 teams in the League and we are talking about a professional league, but two of the teams are not so professional.”
The businessman previously ran a number of top-tier clubs including Happy Valley, Rangers and Sha Tin.
Meanwhile, outgoing South China convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung said he informed the South China Athletic Association (the parent body of the soccer team) in March that he would like to continue in the position and intended to solicit commercial sponsorship for the naming rights of the team. However, he received no response from the Association.
He was later informed by the Association that the annual HK$5 million subvention to the soccer section would be withdrawn from next season, leaving him with little choice but to quit.
Cheung spent HK$50 million over three seasons as convenor of the club but failed to win any major silverware during that period.
The Association announced on Monday they intended to start in the second-tier First Division next season, and the decision was accepted by the Football Association at its board meeting on the same day.
South China have won 41 top tier champions since their inauguration over a 100 years ago.