South China must stump up cash for player contracts despite drop to Hong Kong First Division

Nine players are still under contract to play for them next season under the arrangement of outgoing club convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 June, 2017, 10:49pm

South China have been told to respect player contracts despite their decision to go down to Hong Kong’s second-tier First Division next season.

Hong Kong’s most successful soccer club, the Caroliners finished fourth this season but dropped a bombshell earlier this month by giving up their Premier League place.

However, nine players are still under contract to play for them next season under the arrangement of outgoing club convenor Wallace Cheung Kwong-yung.

Some of these players have a monthly salary of HK$100,000.

“There are cases of South China [contracted] players looking for assistance from the Football Association and we are gathering more information about their terms,” said association board member Canny Leung Chi-san on Monday after a Competitions Committee meeting for next season.

“The association will play a neutral role to help the club and the players so that they can sort things out but as far as we are concerned, the players’ contracts must be respected and whatever action taken must follow the labour law of Hong Kong.”

These nine players include some of their foreign legion such as Bojan Malisic, Luiz Carlos and Nikola Komazec with others believed to be Sean Tse Ka-keung, Chan Siu-kwan and captain Chan Wai-ho, who has already vowed to continue to play for South China next season even if they are in the First Division.

Convenor Cheung, who spent more than HK$50 million over the last three seasons without any major silverware, said he was willing to continue with South China but received no response from the club’s parent body, South China Athletic Association, since he made the request in March.

Meanwhile, it was also decided at the meeting to give foreign player quotas to struggling Mainland-based R&F next season.

The Guangzhou club, which sent a development squad coupled with some Hong Kong youth players to the Premier League this season, finished second from the bottom of the table, narrowly avoiding the drop.

However, they wanted to strengthen the squad by employing foreign players, and playing all their home matches in Guangzhou next season.

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“They can only take three foreign players and play a maximum two of them at one time on the pitch,” said Leung.

“They also need to pay a fee of HK$300,000 and bear all the expenses for other clubs to play their away games in Guangzhou next season.”

R&F played their home games in Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground this season but the attendance was never high.

Lee Man & Paper, title sponsor of Rangers this season, also want to set up their own team next season. “They have to pay a fee of HK$1m, just like R&F did in their inaugural season,” said Leung.

The association has planned to kick off with a 10-team Premier League in late August, provided both Lee Man & Paper and R&F agreed to the terms by this week.