Top local clubs want an open door for mainland Chinese players next season to lift standards. Six First Division sides at the monthly meeting of the Hong Kong Football Association's (HKFA) Professional Clubs Committee yesterday agreed clubs should be allowed to field three mainland imports - as well as three expatriates. The newly promoted sides from the Second Division would be allowed to field up to five mainland Chinese players. Golden and Five-One-Seven were absent from the meeting. The proposed plan would have to be approved by the HKFA Council at their meeting on November 25. HKFA chairman Victor Hui Chun-fui said the initiative could lift the standard of games and attract bigger crowds. 'There are not enough good local players even though we only have eight teams,' he said. 'We need some stimulation to boost the competition among the local players or they will not improve themselves.' Hui said clubs would be allowed to increase mainland numbers by including them in the expatriates quota. But he emphasised the opening-up would only be temporary. 'We still have to train up our own players in the long-run. All clubs in the First Division have their own youth teams this season. This is one of the ways to improve our young players.' South China team director Peter Leung Shou-chi said the clubs' top priority was the popularity of the sport. 'The clubs have a feeling that some of the local players are not good enough, yet they keep asking for higher salaries,' he said. 'It is sort of a warning to them. If they don't do something now, they will be replaced by the mainland Chinese.' Leung said clubs could also attract more investment for local soccer if standards improved. 'Most of the other sports rely on mainland Chinese athletes. Let's face reality. How many local Chinese athletes like Lee Lai-shan or Wong Kam-po do you see around?' Leung said South China had been scouting for new recruits in various Chinese provinces and cities. Local players have already voiced their opposition to the proposed plan. Hong Kong Footballer of the Year Au Wai-lun said the younger players would suffer. 'The young and inexperienced players are losing their chances to play as well as their bargaining power,' the South China striker said. 'The clubs have always said they wanted to cut down the number of expats, but we will actually have fewer chances with the influx of mainland Chinese.' Au said local games were unbalanced because the four richer clubs had the better players. 'More and more players quit soccer because they cannot earn much,' he said. 'If the club bosses were willing to pay us more, local players would be as competitive as the outsiders.' Sing Tao advanced to the Senior Challenge Shield semi-finals last night after beating Yee Hope 2-0 at the Siu Sai Wan Stadium. Yugoslav striker Zeljko Gabrilovic opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a low shot from a Chan Tsz-kong cross. Gabrilovic set up Sing Tao's second goal in the 79th minute for Hong Kong forward Wai Kwan-lung, who was unmarked as he scored from close range. Sing Tao will meet either Instant-Dict or Five-One-Seven in the next round.