LEAGUE champions Eastern stunned Hongkong football yesterday by axeing their leading scorer, Dale Tempest. In a shock move, Eastern team manager Peter Leung said they would replace Tempest with Tony Sealy - one of three expatriate players owed more than $100,000 by First Division crisis club Michelotti. Tempest, who has played in Hongkong for the past four seasons, said he was ''amazed'' by the news when he was contacted last night in the Isle of Wight, where he is on holiday with his family. ''I thought I had agreed terms with Eastern before I flew out of Hongkong on Tuesday night but it looks like I have been done,'' said Tempest. ''The club have even provided me with return tickets so I can report back for pre-season training on August 1. The difference between us in terms of money was only a few dollars and I was assured everything would be sorted out when I got back to Hongkong. ''You think you know people and can trust them but obviously that is not the case. ''As far as I'm concerned I have a verbal contract to come back and I would consider suing him (Peter Leung) for breaking the contract if my lawyer thought I had a good case. ''After what's happened with Michelotti and now this, the running of Hongkong football seems to be rotten when it comes to honesty and trust. ''This is totally out of the blue.'' Tempest, 29, spent two seasons with South China before moving to Eastern in 1991. Although Eastern finished the 1991-92 season empty-handed, they won three of the four major trophies this season, including the league championship for the first time since 1956. Eastern completed their league fixtures yesterday with a 3-2 win over bottom club British Forces but all the interest surrounded the pre-match deal struck up between Leung and Sealy. Leung, who is in control of the club's $7 million budget for the season, said Tempest had priced himself out of a third season with Eastern. ''We made him an offer but he did not accept before he went back to Britain,'' said Leung. ''He said he would contact us within a day or two with his decision but we cannot afford to wait. Football is about a team, not only one player, and everyone else was happy to accept a rise of between five and 10 per cent. ''Dale said he wanted 20 per cent on top of a high salary and there was $150,000 between us. Still, I think he is a good striker and hope he can get fixed up with another club in Hongkong - but I don't think anyone will be able to afford him.'' Tempest is the highest paid player in Hongkong football, with a deal worth around $700,000 for the year, according to Leung. But Tempest denied the figures were so high, saying: ''That's rubbish. I was offered a three per cent rise but asked for 10 per cent this year and 10 per cent next year on a two-year contract. ''After what Eastern have achieved this season I did not think a rise based on the cost of living was too much to ask for. ''When I was told the Eastern budget would not be increased next season I was happy to settle for what they offered me. I called Peter Leung five or six times from the airport and left messages but he did not come back to me. ''In recent weeks I'd even discussed our pre-season training in Taiwan and our matches against Yomiuri in the Asian Cup and also that I'd be available for Hongkong for the next World Cup because I'd have lived there for seven years. ''I'll have to come back to Hongkong anyway because I have some business interests and an apartment but I don't know if I can face playing there again after this.'' Tempest, who scored 23 goals last season, may now be a target for South China. Sealy, 34, scored 10 goals for Michelotti but showed enough quality to attract interest from South China, Sing Tao and Kitchee during the season. He received a call from Eastern yesterday morning and agreed a deal in the afternoon - a happy respite from his financial worries with Michelotti. Said Sealy: ''I woke up today with a million problems on my mind but now I am floating. ''My hopes and my appetite have been raised again and it makes you tingle to think I'll be playing for one of the best sides in Asia against the best sides in Asia next season.'' Michelotti were due to pay their players around $900,000 in outstanding wages, bonuses, housing allowances and flights yesterday but were granted a further 24 hours by the Hongkong FA.