The government says it will be scrapped in April and replaced by a sports commission to cut high administrative costs The government has finally announced that it will disband the Sports Development Board (SDB) and create a new sports commission, ending a long period of uncertainty surrounding the organisation, which oversees the improvement of sport in Hong Kong. The changes also include turning the Hong Kong Sports Institute, which manages the training of Hong Kong's elite athletes, into a limited company that will be encouraged to maximise sponsorship opportunities from the private sector. 'The Sports Development Board will be dissolved and the Hong Kong Sports Institute will be re-constituted to become an incorporated body to undertake matters pertaining to high-performance sports training currently under the auspices of the Sports Development Board,' said Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping. 'The reconstitution will allow greater flexibility in the management and operation of the Hong Kong Sports Institute.' Originally outlined in the government sports policy review published in May last year, the restructuring is intended to make more effective use of the government's multimillion dollar funding for sport. The SDB, which received $260 million last year, had long been criticised for its high administration costs. The changes were delayed initially by the impending changes in Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet that saw Dr Ho replace Lam Woon-kwong in the Home Affairs Bureau last July, and then by the soccer betting legislation and the Sars crisis. Under the proposal, the SDB will be replaced next April by the sports commission. Acting Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Leo Kwan Wing-wah said the changes would significantly cut administrative costs. 'One thing is for sure: This is a streamlined structure and anything streamlined will save money. We estimate tens of millions each year. The main savings will be in the dissolving of the SDB and in reducing overlapping functions within the current structure.' The news of the SDB's downfall was welcomed by its chairman, Victor Hui Chun-fui, who took over the role in April. 'Ever since I became chairman we knew there were going to be changes. I reckon this will be good for Hong Kong sport,' Mr Hui said. 'They will make savings by eliminating the overlapping of staff between the SDB, the Home Affairs Bureau and Leisure and Cultural Services Department. There will be job losses, but we will try to limit the number.' The changes will do little in the short-term to ease dissatisfaction in some sports circles over Hong Kong's sports development programme, which was criticised as elitist last month by Veronica Chan, the president of the Hong Kong Women's Football Association. It also seems likely to continue individual sports associations' dependence on government funding, which the president of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, has said his members are eager to wean themselves off.