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Hong Kong keen to profit from Chinese financial windfall

302   //    13 Feb 2016, 17:28 IST
Beijing Guoan FC fans chant slogans during a Chinese Super League game
Beijing Guoan FC fans chant slogans during a Chinese Super League game

The Hong Kong Football Association will discuss the possibility of sending teams to play in Chinese competitions as they hope to take advantage of a surge in soccer investment on the mainland.

Chinese Super League clubs have made several ambitious deals in recent weeks, with Jiangsu Suning shelling a Chinese record 50 million euros ($56.3 million) for Brazil midfielder Alex Teixeira after Colombian striker Jackson Martinez joined Guangzhou Evergrande for 42 million euros.

While the buying power of the Chinese clubs appeared to surprise many European commentators and pundits, HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe is keen to see his clubs profit from the upsurge in interest.

"It would be stupid not to at least consider how HK football can benefit from these developments," Sutcliffe was quoted as saying by Saturday's South China Morning Post.

"This will include revisiting the possibility of taking part in some of their competitions."

The notion had been floated before, the paper said, with its re-emergence coinciding with a period of heightened tensions between the neighbours.

China has governed Hong Kong under a "one country, two systems" formula since it returned from British rule in 1997 but last year's democracy protests and the booing of the Chinese anthem at World Cup qualifiers have highlighted a displeasure with the structure.

Sutcliffe said it was important that any moves to play in China would not affect Hong Kong's football autonomy, while the report suggested competing in the Chinese FA or League Cups were more likely than Super League participation.

Conversations would take place at meetings on Wednesday, Sutcliffe added.

"As you would expect, we are trying to think about how Hong Kong football can benefit, even vicariously, from this increased interest and investment," he said.

"But we will also be considering more tangible ways we can tap into the changes happening over the border without compromising our independence.”

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