According to Hong Kong’s Football Weekly and Oriental Daily, HKFA Chairman Brian Leung confirmed that Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F (also known as Guangzhou Fuli) consider sending their reserve squad to Hong Kong next season to join the local Premier League, possibly to complete the sought after 10-team division. However, Guangzhou R&F are still waiting for approval from the CFA, as they would probably also need to fulfill their duty in the Chinese reserve division.
If Guangzhou R&F would join the HKPL, it can be expected that they will not be eligible to participate in any AFC competitions, so even if they would win the league, the AFC Cup / ACL spot would be awarded to the runners-up and/or season play-off winners. Throughout the season the team would probably host their home games across the border in Guangzhou.
If the deal goes trough (and let’s be honest, it’s still a big “IF”), this might pave the way for more reserve teams from the Mainland to participate in a more competitive environment. In fact, some media outlets already start imagining a Guangzhou Evergrande team as a future candidate. If that’s beneficial for local football development is highly questionable though, as examples from other places (e.g. Singapore) have shown.
That said, it’s also not the first time this is happening here in Hong Kong. Between 2005 and 2008 Dongguan Lanwa FC fielded a team in Hong Kong’s 1st Division, and in the 2008/09 season Shenzhen Shangqingyin sent their reserves under the name Xiangxue Eisiti. However, the team only won a single game and was dissolved after just one year.
Nevertheless, the move from Guangzhou R&F comes as a bit of a surprise, as in recent years the HKFA was rather involved in negotiations to get a local team to join the Chinese FA Cup – and in the long-run the Chinese league system, with the lucrative CSL being the ultimate goal.
Offside.hk will keep you updated about any future developments.