THE territory's most influential cricket official came out yesterday and publicly stated that the Hong Kong Sixes must make its long-awaited move to the Hong Kong Stadium next year - for its own good and for the development of the game locally. John Hung, the president of the Hong Kong Cricket Association and managing director of Wheelock (who together with NatWest have just replaced Wharf Holdings as one of the sponsors of the tournament), said the event had reached stagnation point at its present Kowloon Cricket Club venue. 'If it is to continue to grow in success and popularity, then it must make the move to the Hong Kong Stadium,' Hung bluntly told Sports Post. 'And if Hong Kong cricket is to develop, we need the Hong Kong Sixes in a larger venue so as to be able to attract bigger crowds,' Hung added. KCC has a maximum capacity of 5,000 while the Hong Kong Stadium is a 40,000-seater. Hung's declaration, coming at this juncture, is seen as an indication that the pro-move camp will hold sway, when a decision is taken next month. 'There is a strong push to make the move. If the ground is good enough I don't see why we cannot take this step,' said Hung. To say that Hung holds clout within the circles of Hong Kong cricket is putting it mildly. The 56-year-old patrician of Hong Kong cricket is one of the most powerful men behind the scenes of the tournament. It is believed that the Hong Kong Cricket Association and also the promoters of the event, Cricket World International, are all for a change in venue. The only obstacle to a move apparently had come from the direction of the sponsors. But Hung's positive views on a move, seen in the light of his affiliations with sponsors Wheelock-NatWest, can be interpreted as an indication that the last objections have been overcome and that a move is definitely on the cards for the Hong Kong Sixes which is scheduled to be played next year on September 28-29. 'The event is unlikely to grow if it remains at the KCC. For the tournament to progress and for the development of the game in Hong Kong, a move must be made,' said Hung. 'I know that there is going to be a series of meetings between the sponsors, the association and the promoters next month. We expect to come to a decision soon,' said Hung. Hung, who yesterday confirmed that he will be joining the Sports Development Board's directorate as an appointed member, was confident that a move would not rob the event of 'atmosphere'. 'With a little bit of ingenuity, I'm sure we can create an atmosphere at the Stadium,' he said. Traditionalists who decry a move, point out that the village green atmosphere would be lost forever. While admitting that the intimacy of the KCC will be hard to duplicate, Hung said the plus points far outweigh the nostalgic reasons for staying on. 'We can have a 12-team tournament where the teams are divided into four groups in the round-robin format. 'This will make it easy to determine the Cup, Plate and Bowl teams with the winners playing in the Cup, the second-placed teams in the Plate and the third-placed in the Bowl. 'This year we had a very unsatisfactory situation where we had to rely on run-rate, leading to Hong Kong and New Zealand losing out,' Hung said. He pointed out that a 12-team format would also allow for all nine Test-playing nations to be invited and leaving room for two associate member countries apart from Hong Kong. The HKCA has already mooted the idea of having a pre-qualifier amongst associate member countries in the week preceding the Hong Kong Sixes. 'Most importantly, the development of the game will be boosted locally. The more spacious surroundings will enable us to bring in school children and more spectators,' added Hung. The Hong Kong Sixes did plan to make the move to the Hong Kong Stadium back in 1993. But organisers later were hurriedly forced to go back on that decision after the state of the pitch was found to be poor. This will remain the key concern when a decision is made - apart from the nostalgic reasons. 'We will inspect the pitch carefully before taking any decisions,' Hung said.