Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Hong Kong Stadium Pitch - Update

About 10am on Saturday morning I started getting messages that the Hong Kong Stadium pitch was worse than it was before. I thought people were joking. Unfortunately they weren’t. I went to the stadium myself at about 11am and was shocked by what I saw. I had fully expected to go to the rugby and see a perfect pitch and to be writing in this blog how frustrated I was that our game against China next week wasn’t going to be played at the HK Stadium. Instead I had to agree with LCSD that there is no way the pitch would recover in time. Indeed it looked like it hadn’t ‘recovered’ from the last rugby 7s held in March. So instead of asking ‘why is it not possible for a pitch to recover in 9 days’? I found myself asking ‘how is it possible to spend 7 months and HK$100m and still end up with a pitch that is virtually unplayable’? It is no good blaming 50 ‘vigorous’ games of rugby, the sad truth is that the pitch was cutting up badly in the first game.

Believe me, there is no way that the pitch could have sustained a 15 a side game of rugby, it would have been ripped to shreds. I am relieved that this weekend’s rugby 7s tournament effectively acted as a ‘test’ event. If it had been untried and we had played against China on it next week, goodness knows what would have happened. When the pitch was bad during the Barclays Asia Trophy it was apparently the Football Association’s fault for scheduling too many matches and the rain’s fault for …er…. raining. Now it is apparently a problem with the ‘heat’ in September. Surely the excuses are running thin now, in fact almost as thin as the grass cover on the pitch.

In retrospect it appears that the decision to play the match against China at Mong Kok is the right one but of course not for the right reason. I remain very concerned about the HK Stadium pitch because it is supposed to be the home venue for one of our Premier League teams and we also want to use it for other upcoming matches such as the Lunar New Year Cup in early February. I am not interested in excuses any more, we just need urgent assurances that there is a longer term solution to what is obviously a problematic situation.

Mark Sutcliffe, November 2015


  1. There was a report in AM730 last week about the sand supplied to LCSD being the wrong type. LCSD ordered silica sand but the supplier delivered something else. The top brass at LCSD is so stupid it is not true.

    I am not sure you know, but Hong Kong Cricket Association is also expecting to host cricket matches at Kai Tak, as expressed by their CEO Mr. Tim Cutler here on his blog. (http://hkcricket.org/en/news/CEO-Blog-7-July-2015/305/) So HKFA will not only share Kai Tak with HKRFU, but also HKCA.

    There is nothing wrong with other sports associations wanting to use Kai Tak Stadium. Cricket needs the stadium more than HKFA does if you ask me. But with so many sports potentially playing there, it is absolutely essential that HKFA at least keeps hold of Hong Kong Stadium for the long term.

    Cable TV will now show the Maldives match live, but I don't have the service...

  2. Dear Allan,
    I have heard a rumour about sand but I don't really know the details. If true, it is a recurring theme because when the Barclays Asia Trophy was here in 2013 they put unfiltered river sand on the pitch and it took hours to pick out stones, shells etc from the pitch. We got very close to having to abandon the match.
    I'm a big cricket fan (having played the sport most of my life) and would support cricket being accommodated at the secondary 5,000 seat stadium at Kai Tak. However unless there is a very expensive design solution including moving seats I do not think it would be possible for cricket to be accommodated in the main 50,000 seat stadium. The needs of the sport in terms of shape and dimensions of the pitch are just so different. A compromise is not always a good idea. We have to be realistic and football and rugby will always be the most popular team sports. How many cricket matches would attract more than 5,000 spectators?
    I have made the point to the Government's consultants that we would like to retain the existing HK Stadium (even if the capacity is reduced to say 20,000). We would then have good small (Mong Kok), medium (HKS) and large (Kai Tak) stadiums so we could cater for all levels of demand.
    I am aware that i-cable has bought the rights to the Maldives match. I hope you can find somewhere to watch it.


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