The HKFA has just confirmed that the significant home game against China on November 17th in the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers will not take place at Hong Kong Stadium as originally planned.
Instead of Hong Kong’s most prestigious venue, which would offer 40,000 people the opportunity to watch the match, the HKFA was required to either choose the unpoular Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground (capacity: 12,000) or Mong Kok Stadium (capacity: 6,500). Apparently the HKFA received a notification from Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department that the pitch in Hong Kong Stadium, which has just undergone renovation, won’t have enough time to recover, as the local Rugby Union insisted to organize the Asian Rugby Qualifiers there on November 7th and 8th.
Aside from a huge financial loss for the HKFA, this would also mean that up to 33,500 fans will be left disappointed. A sad day for local football, which also ridicules the government’s investment to boost its development since 2009. And also a once-in-a-decade chance left unused.
The full text of HKFA’s press release:
Today the HKFA received notification from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department that the Hong Kong Stadium, the first choice venue for the World Cup Qualifier Hong Kong vs China on 17th November 2015, would not be available. The reason is that turf reconstruction works of the Hong Kong Stadium has just been completed, and according to the current turf condition and experts’ advice, the pitch could not be restored in time for the match following the Rugby 7s Olympic qualification competition due to be held on the 7th and 8th of November 2015.
This is a huge match with massive demand for tickets and it is very disappointing that the main stadium in Hong Kong will not be ready, thus depriving many fans of an opportunity to support the Hong Kong team from the stands.
Faced with a decision regarding an alternative venue, the HKFA has chosen Mong Kok Stadium ahead of Sui Sai Wan Sports Ground. Although the capacity is less, Mong Kok Stadium is favoured because it is the players’ preferred venue, the playing surface is better and the atmosphere will be more conducive for the home team due to the absence of a running track.
Now that the decision has been taken, the HKFA will work with the various agencies to confirm ticketing arrangements and other logistics and further announcements will be made shortly.