Closure Of Hong Kong Stadium Rules Out Visits Form EPL Clubs Next Summer
The Hong Kong FA "has questioned the timing of renovations to Hong Kong Stadium next year which will deprive the city of visits" by EPL clubs Liverpool and Arsenal, according to Chan Kin-wa of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. HKFA CEO Mark Sutcliffe said that the 40,000-seat venue in So Kon Po "would be closed from April for six months for repair to its turf." Sutcliffe: "It will be a key time for European clubs to visit Hong Kong because there is no World Cup or European Championship. We are concerned about a loss of momentum as we try to build up local interest in football and also a loss of much-needed revenue for the HKFA." The authorities "were fearful of further problems and embarrassment after the pitch came under heavy fire" during last summer’s Barclays Asia Trophy and the int'l friendly between Kitchee and ManU, "all played within a span of six days." Visiting teams’ officials "described it as 'a killing field' after the ground was hit by torrential rain." Other than the int'l calendar, domestic league and cup matches "will also be affected because the HKFA will not be able to use the venue from late February." The stadium "will be closed from the beginning of March to prepare for the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens." Sutcliffe said, "We will lose the home venue for South China for Premier League matches as well as for the FA Cup final, end-of-season play-off final, any AFC matches and any representative team matches" (SCMP, 7/8).