Hong Kong sides miss out on chance to face Premier League clubs in Asia Trophy
Liverpool and Leicester City will headline July event, but doubts remain if both days will be played at Hong Kong Stadium
Newly crowned Hong Kong Premier League champions Kitchee will not feature in the Asia Trophy this summer, with Liverpool and Leicester City headlining a group of four Premier League sides in an event that will be without a local representive for the first time.
Fellow English Premier League sides Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion are set to complete the line-up for July’s tournament, which is making a fourth stop in Hong Kong following previous tournaments in 2007, 2011 and 2013.
But leading sides Kitchee and Eastern were informed before Saturday’s title decider at Mong Kok Stadium that there would be no place for a local side for the first time in the seven previous editions of the tournament, which has also been played in Malaysia, Thailand, China and Singapore.
“The [Premier League] has decided to change the format and there will be no representative from the hosts,” said Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak.
“We told both Eastern and Kitchee the decision before they started their crucial league decider.”
It is, though, unclear whether both days of the tournament will be played in Hong Kong after the Premier League initially intended to split the four games with China.
Will Hong Kong host Liverpool and Leicester in the Premier League’s Asia Trophy on its own this summer?
Hong Kong was set to host the first round of games on July 19 before moving to Shanghai four days later, but the date clashes with the Chinese Super League fixtures including potential Asia Trophy hosts Shanghai SIPG against defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
“We are still waiting for the [Premier League] to decide whether Hong Kong will stage both match days,” added Leung. “However, one thing is sure we will stage the final on the second day.”