To say that sports development in Hong Kong still leaves much to be desired is not an overstatement. Even though there is no shortage of government funding for sport bodies and events, effective use remains an issue, as reflected in the latest report by the government’s Audit Commission. From governance to fiscal prudence, irregularities abound. Admittedly, sport performance is not always proportional to the resources put into athletic training and development. The industry, after all, cannot be treated as a profit-making industry. But it does not mean taxpayers’ money can be spent irresponsibly. The fact that a total of 166 projects had drawn nearly HK$124 million from the Arts and Sport Development Fund in 2018-19 has made plain the need for accountability. Hong Kong FA criticised for making ‘little progress’ since 2011 The auditor is to be commended for reviewing compliance of individual projects. Apart from unexplained variance between budget and actual spending, a lack of performance targets in grants and late submission of audited accounts, there were also slack assessment of funding criteria for sports events and non-compliance in procurement procedures. The array of problems exposed is disturbing. Separately, a five-year HK$105 million Asian Games funding programme also fell short of expectation, with nine of the 12 teams in 2018 failing to achieve the targets, according to the report. Particular concerns were expressed at the governance of the Hong Kong Football Association, with some members attending less than half of the meetings. There were also inadequacies in declaration of interests and staff recruitment. The auditor also found that the average number of spectators dropped by 3.6 per cent from 1,403 in 2015-16 to 1,352 in 2018-19; but the association has become more financially dependent on the government, with public funding accounting for 73 per cent of its income in 2017-18, up from 47 per cent in 2014-15. The auditor’s recommendations for tighter supervision ought to be an intrinsic part of good governance. At stake is not just compliance and accountability, but also sports development. The report is a timely push for stakeholders to clean up the act. Help us understand what you are interested in so that we can improve SCMP and provide a better experience for you. We would like to invite you to take this five-minute survey on how you engage with SCMP and the news.