Kitchee’s HK$84 million training centre – that is only a year old – must move to make way for a housing development after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said last night that a new site would be found for the football club.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Lui Che Woo Prize awards ceremony at the Convention and Exhibition Centre last night, Leung said the government would find a new site before asking Kitchee to move out.
Leung stressed that the government “attached great importance” to the Kitchee Centre’s contributions to the promotion of football and the overall development of sport in Hong Kong, but the government had to weigh these problems with other issues such as the shortage of land and housing.
“Public housing tenants and applicants must queue up for flats, rents are expensive and property prices are high,” he said.
The 15,000 square-metre training centre located near Shek Mun MTR station in Siu Lek Yuen, Sha Tin, has two 11-a-side pitches, a gym, an office and changing rooms. Work on a second phase involving a two-storey administration building is under way.
Leung added: “The public housing [development] will take place in phases. If we do rezone this land, the first phase will not involve the land Kitchee Centre is leasing on a short-term basis. But before relocation, we will not be taking back the land.”
Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin said the club had a short-term tenancy agreement with the government that had to be renewed in 12 months.
Ng, however, said earlier that he remained confident they could continue their business beyond 2017.
“The government has the right to take over the property at the end of the lease, but we don’t think this is in the best interest of community development and the development of sport in Hong Kong as well,” he said before Leung’s comments last night.
“The piece of land is designated for recreational use since we first had the idea for the project. It was designed, developed and built under a policy supported by the government’s Home Affairs Bureau in consultation with other relevant departments for the sake of future development of football in Hong Kong,” said Ng.
Ng said if there was any change to the usage of the site, it had to go through the Town Planning Board and he appealed to the board for careful consideration.