This article is part of the SCMP’s series on the long-awaited resumption of sport in Hong Kong. After months of cancelled competitions and facility closures as the city battled a Covid-19 outbreak, elite athletes as well as the public are returning to pitches, pools and tracks. Football officials remain upbeat ahead of the new season despite ongoing pandemic restrictions, with more teams expected to join the Hong Kong Premier League. At a Premier League Clubs’ meeting on Friday, all eight existing teams indicated they will continue in the new campaign, including Kwoon Chung Southern and Resources Capital, who both had reservations about their future. Southern may lose their sponsorship with Kwoon Chung, but could still lean on the financial support of the bus service provider’s boss Matthew Wong Leung-pak, who is also a vice-chairman of the Football Association. Hong Kong Premier League clubs abandon season for the first time Minnows Resources Capital have struggled during their two seasons in the top flight since earning promotion, and may have to use their budget in a more cost-effective way going forward. “As far as we understand, all the current clubs will stay for next season,” association chairman Pui Kwan-kay said after the meeting. “At the same time, some district clubs have shown their interest in joining the Premier League and the association will approach them as soon as possible. We are confident the number of teams can remain the same, or even increase to 10 next season. “We will finalise the number of teams by the end of May and plan to start a small scale preseason tournament in July as a warm-up for the new season, which is scheduled to kick off in August, as the pandemic seems to be under better control recently.” Curtains for Hong Kong’s football season, even if venues reopen by April It is believed two district clubs – Wofoo Tai Po and Sham Shui Po – are considering offers to join the HKPL, provided they can obtain licenses by satisfying certain requirements. District clubs have the advantage of receiving financial support from the government as representatives of the district. The Home Affairs Bureau has set aside a HK$2 million budget for each district side competing in the top flight. The budget cannot be use to pay players’ salaries, but can offset other expenses. If the team can secure an additional HK$2 million from commercial sponsors, they may be able to survive in the Premier League during what continue to be tough times because of the pandemic. Wofoo Tai Po – who were leading the First Division table before all games were suspended in January, with the city hit by a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections – are eager to rejoin the top flight. The district team lifted the Premier League championship in 2019, the second top-tier title triumph by a district team after Yuen Long in 1963. However, they struggled to put together a strong side the following season before announcing their decision of “self relegation” at the end of that campaign. Sham Shui Po reached the top-tier once before when they appeared in the then-First Division in 2011-12, before being relegated the following season. They were sixth in the second-tier table before January’s suspension. The 2021-22 season was hit hard by the pandemic after the Football Association, in consultation with Premier League clubs, abandoned the campaign in February. Kwoon Chung Southern were leading the table after winning all four of their matches, with defending champions Kitchee two points behind in second place, followed by Lee Man, Eastern, BC Rangers, Football Club, HK U23 and Resource Capital – who sat at the bottom of the table after losing all three of their games.