Officials hopeful Premier League Asia Trophy will return to Hong Kong as event leaves ‘everybody happy’
Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak says he can’t ask for more after the tournament went off without a hitch
Hong Kong officials are hopeful that the next edition of the English Premier League Asia Trophy will be staged in the city following the highly successful hosting of the 2017 event.
For the first time in all four editions of the tournament held in the city since 2007, the 40,000-seat Hong Kong Stadium was full on both days as fans enjoyed two great evenings of Premier League soccer featuring Liverpool, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.
“We can’t ask for more. The fans are happy, we, as the local organisers, are happy and the Premier League is happy,” said Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak.
“The tournament has truly become a flagship event for Hong Kong since it was first held here 10 years ago.
— Premier League (@premierleague) July 22, 2017
“We had an informal meeting with the Premier League after the first match day where we did express our interest in staging the Asia Trophy again, but this is a Premier League event and whether or not it will be held in Hong Kong again is solely at their discretion.
“All I can tell you is everybody is very happy with the 2017 event and we look forward to more joint ventures with the Premier League.”
Leung said the Premier League was a bit worried about pitch conditions after some heavy downpours at the beginning of last week, but thanks to an improvement in the weather and the newly installed drainage system at Hong Kong Stadium, the problem never eventuated.
“Even the weather helped us as the forecast said there would be some heavy rain in midweek, but then the bad weather came earlier and did not cause any big problems during the competition, although the teams had to go through some training sessions in the heavy rain,” he said.
“But the two event days were hardly affected and of course we must also thank the stadium for the effort they put in to maintain the ground after what happened last time.”
At the 2013 event, Italian Paolo Di Canio, the then Sunderland manager, condemned the 40,000-seat facility as a “killer pitch” after non-stop rain beset the So Kon Po venue.
The authorities closed the stadium in 2015 and spent HK$30 million on improving the pitch and the drainage system.
The two-day event is understood to have generated gate receipts over HK$30 million, all of which goes to the EPL.
The HFKA received an unspecified sum as an administration fee, while the government, the venue owner, charged 20 per cent of that sum as a hiring fee.
“I don’t think money is their major concern,” said Leung. “The Premier League has brought over 400 people from England for this event in order to make it a success.
English Premier League chief still has ‘burning desire’ to play competitive games in Asia – and says China will be a football superpower ahead of schedule
“They even installed electronic advertisement boards at the venue and coupled with the board and lodging and other expenses for these 400 people, it’s already a big amount of money.
“The Asia Trophy is more on the marketing side for promoting the Premier League and not making money directly.”