The Hong Kong Premier League will officially start on 12 Sep 2014. Today the HKFA eventually announced the fixtures for the coming season – and gave more insight into the new competition and cup formats. Offside.HK has laid out the facts.
Premier League Format
The Premier League will comprise 9 teams. In total there will be 18 rounds (each team plays 16 rounds, but also passes 2 more rounds due to the uneven team number). The season will start on 12 Sep 2014 (20:00, Mong Kok Stadium) with a game between Kitchee and Tai Po, and end on 10 May 2015.
The league champion will qualify for the AFC Champions Leage Play-Off (currently 3 rounds) or the AFC Cup respectively. The team with the lowest ranking will be relegated to the 1st Division, while the best ranked team of the 1st Division will be promoted to the Premier League (subject to license approval).
Besides the league champion, another team will be able to qualify for an international competition (currently the AFC Cup) by winning the Season Play-Off at the very end of the 2014/2015 season. In total 4 teams will participate: the FA Cup Winner, the League Cup Winner, the Senior Shield Cup Winner and the best ranked team(s) in the Premier League (which is neither the league champion nor a cup winner).
Foreign Players and Transfers
Each team in the Hong Kong Premier League can register max. 6 foreign players in their squad (and max. 4 are allowed to play at the same time on the pitch). In addition, at least 1 of the 6 players must be Asian (nationality of AFC member).
For 2014/2015 the 2 transfer windows are from 11 July to 2 Oct 2014 and from 2 Jan to 29 Jan 2015.
The 2014/15 season will see 4 additional cup competitions. On 31 Aug 2014, Kitchee (as 2013-14 champion) and South China (as 2013-14 Season Play-off winner) will compete for the “Community Cup”. This cup is similar to the European super cups and has therefore a rather low significance. Its main purpose is to promote the start of the new premier league season.
The Senior Shield will feature at least 10 teams and is played in a knock-out format. The final will be played on 18 Jan 2014 in Hong Kong Stadium and the winner will qualify for the Season Play-Off.
The League Cup consists of a group Stage (3 groups) and a knock-out stage. The final will be played on 22 April 2014 in Mong Kok Stadium and the winner will qualify for the Season Play-Off.
The FA Cup is entirely played in a knock-out format. The final will be played on 17 May 2014 in Mong Kok Stadium and the winner will also qualify for the Season Play-Off.
Given the shaky planning for the new Premier League, we expect some more changes for the above mentioned cup formats during the next months. Offside.HK will keep you updated about any further developments.