Hong Kong FA CEO Mark Sutcliffe Says Club Suspensions Message To 'Clean Up' Sport
Hong Kong FA CEO Mark Sutcliffe said that the move to suspend Happy Valley and Tuen Mun from the First Division is a strong message that the HKFA is serious about "cleaning up" the sport as it looks towards a new professional era, according to Alvin Sallay of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. The clubs "have been kicked out of the top flight after an HKFA investigation found that both clubs had brought the game into disrepute and were not viable to continue playing as they fell short in terms of governance, financial status and operational abilities." Sutcliffe said on Thursday, "We hope this will send a strong message that the HKFA is serious about cleaning up the sport in terms of the governance and financial stability of the clubs." The financial situation of Happy Valley and Tuen Mun "changed dramatically mid-season" leading both clubs to inform the HKFA that they were not able to fulfill their financial obligations for the rest of the season. Tuen Mun "had deregistered 11 players and terminated an agreement with a mainland backer last month." Around the same time the Independent Commission Against Corruption "took away a number of Happy Valley players after a match." Investigations "are still continuing on this front." Sutcliffe: "Our investigations had nothing to do with match-fixing. We took a decision to suspend both clubs simply because they have brought the game into disrepute by not being able to meet their financial obligations and due to their governance" (SCMP, 2/13).