League

Pui: September restart to be approved by board next week

HKFA

Details to be finalized before a formal announcement as early as the middle of next week.

Hong Kong Football Association chairman Pui Kwan-kay told the media Thursday that the Premier League season is set to resume no earlier than 1 September.

In a stunning reversal, Pui revealed that at least six clubs had agreed to continue with the season, pending an easing of the pandemic and the subsequent reopening of Leisure and Cultural Services Department venues. This starkly contrasts with news last week when eight clubs agreed on a resolution to terminate the season and start a new season in January 2021.

Senior officials, including CEO Paul Woodland, director Chan Chi-hong, and members of the Competition Committee met today after collecting written opinions from the ten Premier League clubs as to how to proceed with the season. After deliberating, they agreed to inform the clubs of their decision and send the proposal to the board of directors for approval as early next Thursday, the 16th.

“The thing that most people are concerned about is ‘when can we resume play?’,” said the chairman.

“Currently, senior management believes that the earliest this can happen is September. It gives the clubs enough time to prepare so as of now, there is no plan to terminate the season.

“A few details still need to be sorted but as soon as we receive board approval next week, we can make a formal announcement.”

Although Kitchee had requested a video conference between the HKFA and clubs on Friday, Pui stated that there was no need for a meeting because all of the opinions had been collected.

Number of clubs to be determined

On Tuesday night, Pegasus president Steven Lo told Ming Pao that his club was “finished for the season” and would definitely not participate if the league campaign resumed in September. It was reported that only ten or so players remained on Pegasus’ payroll after agreeing to cut their pay by 30 to 50%. Other players, including player-coach Chan Wai-ho, elected to be paid their full salary and accept an early termination.

Furthermore, Rangers director Philip Lee confirmed that he had already agreed to terminate the contracts of eight local players in addition to most foreign players. However, Stefan Pereira, Jean-Jacques Kilama and Aender are expected to remain with the club.

Asked today about the possibility of fewer than ten clubs participating in the league once it resumes, Pui conceded that this was realistic. The chairman admitted that there was an agreement with clubs that if they chose to withdraw, they would retain their membership and there would be no punishment.

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