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Monday, July 21, 2008

Hong Kong Football - what is the way out? (Part II)


Last time I have shared a bit about the problem of the Hong Kong football, now I would like to share with you about the way out. First, I would like to share with you some suggested solutions from the people around Hong Kong.


Some people said Hong Kong should form up a representative team to participate in the league in China, but I don't agree. Yes, technically it is possible and the "national" team of Hong Kong can still remain, like the relationship between Australia in New Zealand in A-League. What I don't agree is the stakeholders. Clubs in Hong Kong are the major stakeholders in any changes in the league, so they will protect their interest at all costs. Some people suggest those clubs can be the feeder club to that representative team, but this movement has already drastically affect their interest. Some people also said the league in Hong Kong can stay remained when the representative team is formed. Well, the clubs' interests are affected again as the league and the team position in the Hong Kong football industry will be very embarrassed. Imagine their investment to the team is vanished at a night, will they support the change? I don't think so. If forming up the representative team to play in China, clubs in Hong Kong will be downgraded and it will end up with intense internal fight within the area in Hong Kong. So, I don't think it is possible.


Some people said we should set up the regional team to compete in the existing league. I think this is a good suggestion, it can solve the problem of the lacking of sense of belonging. There is a region in Hong Kong, called Tai Po, they have a representative team to play the league in Hong Kong and they use the ground there as their home court. The strong base of community support can stimulate the attendance of the match and create the long term support to the team, as well as the league. However, the down side is the advantage is limited in the regional area. If you are not living in that area, you are not going to support the team. So yes, this is the good idea, but it is limited in terms of geographical pattern.


Some people also said asking for more government support. Well, I'm not going to disagree this suggestion, the government can provide the resources that every corporation can't match. However, as the previous said, the government seemed they were not going to keep support the football industry as they don't think they can get the money back quickly. So the support from the government is not reliable and I predict the outcome is not that well.


So, what's my suggestion?


I suggest to reform the league system, franchising is my final goal. As the relegation system is unofficially dead, we should make it official. Eliminate the relegation system and make the existing team in the top flight be one of the franchisees. The advantage is it can stabilize the participated teams regularly and prevent the threads of the effects after relegation, as it will affect the finance of the teams. On the other hand, the league should introduce the playoffs to replace the relegation matches, so there will be more matches to play as well as to make the league to be more intense. I believe the core change of the league system is the competetion level. There is not necessarily to purchase former stars to the team as it will bring lots of financial burden to the team. Therefore, changing the league system is better and more economical choice. Like A-League in Australia, even there was stars to play for that league, such as Romario, the more attracting factor to attract the crowd is the league competition and sense of belongings. Hong Kong can learn from this.


Even I support Germany as my very first choice, I still support the football in Hong Kong. I can't say I'm a hardcore Hong Kong fan, I do hope one day the football in Hong Kong to be strong again.

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