- League leaders R&F worry whether the current rankings would change if teams opted out in September
- Eastern call for all stakeholders to come together in this unprecedented situation before playing again after summer
Hong Kong's football clubs are not against restarting the Premier League after summer but say important issues must be sorted out.
League leading R&F coach Yeung Ching-kwong agreed it would be the better option if the Football Association could resume competition in September to complete the season.
"It would be fairer to the teams if we can complete the season, even though it would be much later than normal," said Yeung, a former Hong Kong international.
"We know Hong Kong is facing the epidemic and it's not only football but all walks of life that have been affected. We have to adapt to changes in the ways we do things.
"But still we have to sort out things, such as if the teams can change players in September or will there be a delay of the transfer window? Also, what happens if some clubs decide not to continue and refuse to rejoin the league when it restarts later. Would our points (won) against these clubs be kept or be taken away and not count in the table. This would definitely affect the current standings."
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It is understood Pegasus did not buy the idea of postponing the competition until September, preferring the season be ended prematurely. They proposed setting up a top-five team competition later to decide the rankings.
"If this happens and not all teams will continue in September, we would prefer to end the season now and use the current standings as final," said Yeung.
Yeung said R&F have no plans to cut their players' salaries or end contracts prematurely. "Most of our players are contracted until the end of June and the club will honour their contracts," he said. "But we hope the Football Association can come up with some decisions as soon as possible so that we can start discussions with the players about their futures."
Guangzhou-based R&F have the biggest budget of HK$50 million among the 10 Premier League clubs as they chase their first league title since joining the Hong Kong competition in 2016.
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Eastern coach Lee Chi-kin called for the support of all stakeholders in football in this unprecedented situation.
"We have to work together in this adverse situation," said Lee, who has led Eastern to the final of the Senior Shield and FA Cup. Both have yet to be played.
"According to the experience from Sars, the virus would be under better control during summer time and therefore it is sensible to resume the league in September. This is quite similar to our previous practice when the normal league competition begins. Also, it can give the clubs more lead time before we start playing again.
"We can put aside the issue of whether this is a continuation of the existing season or the beginning of a new season as we can have a date so that we can talk to the players. The Football Association needs to make a decision soon."
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The coach said many of their players are contracted for more than one season. "We will honour our contracts and will not make any pay cut because of the epidemic," he said.
"If the Football Association can decide to restart in September, we can start talking with the players about their futures as we are not too far away from June when their contracts are due."
Wofoo Tai Po secretary Chan Ping urged the Football Association to end the season immediately as they faced financial difficulties in paying players.
"We rely heavily on commercial sponsors and they may withdraw their financial support as we are not playing any more," said Chan of the defending champions.
"The Football Association only declares the league is being suspended indefinitely, which means we still have to pay the players, but once they announce it's the end of the season we can discuss with the players whether we want to keep them or release them before we start again in September."
The Football Association is gathering recommendations from the clubs before its board meets next week.
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