Introduction and Context
I have been asked to write a blog about the FTC – so here goes.
A FTC for Hong Kong has been in discussion and planning for a considerable period of time, over a decade in fact. There is no question that it is desperately needed as a dedicated base for football development activity across Hong Kong.
As identified in the HKFA strategy, the development of football in Hong Kong is being compromised by a lack of quality footballers, coaches and officials. The ‘peripatetic’ nature of facility allocation and use at the highest level of the sport is detrimental. A dedicated, exclusive and purpose built facility would provide significantly better opportunities for the training of players, coaches and officials and be a catalyst for the long term systematic improvement of football.
There is also a lack of accessible good quality football facilities in Hong Kong at the District and Regional level. Additional pitches with ancillary facilities at Tseung Kwan O could fill the gap within the Sai Kung District freeing up existing community facilities for general public use.
The HKFTC would be the ‘nerve centre’ for football in Hong Kong and be the catalyst to drive and improve the quality of football. The centre would be a major asset in the development of players, coaches and referees.
The vision and aspiration for the FTC is as follows:
· The home of Hong Kong Football and the centre for football training, education, learning and career development.
· The training base for all Hong Kong national and junior teams and would encompass the training of coaches, referees and administrators.
· The HKFTC will create a legacy for future generations of football in Hong Kong.
· A High Performance Centre for Elite footballers in Hong Kong
· A community football centre
It is important that the FTC is not seen as an isolated project. It is in fact a key part of the football development strategy. This development was a key recommendation of Project Phoenix. The new five-year strategy, Aiming High - Together reinforces the need for the centre which will provide football with the infrastructure it needs to train and educate the footballers, coaches and officials of tomorrow.
The core of the revised plan is six football pitches (three natural turf and 3 artificial). These will be supported by associated infrastructure including; access road, fencing, floodlights, car park and temporary buildings to house changing rooms, showers, toilets, offices, classroom, gym, storage etc.
The temporary nature of the buildings means that this is seen as a phase 1. A future phase 2 is envisaged which would include more permanent structures and additional pitches (subject to land availability).
Progress of the Scheme
The HKFA submitted an application to the HKJC Charities Trust in March 2015. On 27th April the Charities Trust approved the application and awarded the HKFA a sum of HK$133 million for the development of the TKO Football Training Centre. This included the HK$102.7m previously awarded in 2005 and a new award of HK$30.3m. The HKFA received a letter on 28th May confirming the award and setting out the conditions that will apply. The HKFA has subsequently confirmed its acceptance of these terms.
The HKFA intends to operate the facilities through a newly established subsidiary company and the Board of the HKFA has agreed to underwrite the operating deficit of the centre (estimated to be circa HK$3m per annum). A multi-stakeholder Steering Committee will be established to oversee the development and construction. A specialist Project Manager will be appointed to assist.
The project Steering Group of the Government’s Landfill Revitalisation Scheme has agreed in principle the release of the land. The HKFA met (23rd October) with a Government Inter-Departmental Working Party to identify key issues and to confirm the various roles and responsibilities of each relevant Government Department. This was a useful first meeting.
The HKFA has also met with the MTR Corporation in view of the proximity of the site to the Lohas Park MTR station and to discuss ways in which access to the facilities can be incorporated.
The HKFA has prepared tender documents for the appointment of a Project Manager (PM). The role of the PM will be to advise the HKFA on all technical matters and to liaise with Government Departments and other stakeholders. The PM will also be responsible for preparing tender documents for the construction project and for the appointment and subsequent supervision of design and build contractors. The PM position has been advertised in accordance with the HKFA procurement policy and ICAC advice on procurement and it is hoped that an appointment will be confirmed in December.
The proposed Football Training Centre is fundamental to the delivery of the Strategic Plan. Additional pitches are desperately needed at all levels but particularly for the training and development of elite players. Recently the project has moved a number of steps closer with the award of a capital grant from the HKJC Charities Trust and the allocation of the land by the Government. The HKFA has started to meet with the various stakeholders, in particular a Government inter-departmental working group. A PM will be appointed in the near future and will commence work as a consultant to the HKFA in January.
If all goes to plan the facility will be ready by mid to late 2017.
Mark Sutcliffe, CEO November 2015