Friday, 24 June 2016

Strategic Plan - Aiming High

Strategic Plan - Aiming High

In 2014 and in fulfillment of one of the recommendations of Project Phoenix, the HKFA prepared a new five-year Strategic Plan entitled Aiming High – Together. This was presented to the Government’s Football Task Force and was used as the basis for the five-year funding agreement with the Government. The grant provided is conditional upon the delivery of the strategic plan and specific key performance indicators. The strategy was also used to underpin an application to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for a financial contribution to football development activities and the construction of the Football Training Centre.

As with all plans it is subject to regular review and appraisal. In 2015/16 the HKFA has been reviewing the strategy via the Strategy Committee and has produced the latest iteration in English and Chinese (see attachments below).

The Strategy Committee undertook a thorough review of the Strategic plan and drew a number of conclusions:
  • The broad direction of travel and strategic priorities remain correct
  • The principles cannot deviate too much from the plan already agreed with the Government and used as justification for the Jockey Club funding
  • The KPI’s must remain in accordance with those already agreed with the Government
  • The previous document is too long (even the Executive Summary version) if it is to be read and understood by stakeholders and partners
  • The strategy focuses solely on football development ‘on the pitch’ issues
  • For it to be an holistic plan, there is a need for greater focus on ‘off the pitch’ issues; specifically governance, management and organization
The latest version has been produced taking into account the above principles and comments. The new plan therefore retains the themes, priorities and targets of the original version but includes goals, strategic objectives and targets for other aspects of the HKFA, notably governance and management; all in a shorter more ‘digestible’ format. 

The document is based on the standard approach of, where are we now, where do we want to be and how are we going to get there. The plan includes a vision, mission statement and core values for the HKFA. It has goals and strategic objectives for three main areas:
  • Football Development (the area focused on in the ‘old’ version)
  • Governance
  • Management and Organisation
The plan also has targets and milestones for each objective which are consistent with those previously agreed with the funding partners. New ones have been added for the governance and management areas. Implementation is covered also and key roles and responsibilities have been identified both for Committees and Secretarial staff.

Each HKFA Department will need to prepare individual (annual) plans (to be approved by the relevant committee) that are in accordance with and contribute to the strategic plan. For example the Technical Department will produce an annual Football Development Plan setting out detailed activities and programmes for grass roots development, youth development, high performance football, women’s football, futsal, coach education etc. This plan will incorporate the ‘game changers’ set out in the previous version of the plan. The Football Development Plan will be approved by the Technical Committee and ultimately the Board.

Annual Plans will cascade down to individual members of staff who will be given specific tasks and targets. These will form part of the annual appraisal process, thus developing a formal performance management system.

The revised plan has been approved by the HKFA Strategy Committee and subsequently formally adopted by the HKFA Board. It will now be used to communicate the priorities and direction of the HKFA to all interested parties and stakeholders. There should be no ambiguity now about the HKFA’s direction, priorities, remit and rationale.

Comments on the plan are welcomed. 

Mark Sutcliffe, CEO, June 2016


力爭上游 策略性計劃

為配合及達致鳳凰計劃的建議,香港足總於2014年提出名為《力爭上游 — 萬眾一心》的足球發展計劃,並向香港特區政府所委任的足球專責小組匯報,以及作為政府五年資助的協議基礎。資助的款項亦受該計劃以及其關鍵績效指標的成效所影響。該計劃亦用作向香港賽馬會申請於足球發展活動上以及興建足球訓練中心的財政資助。

如所有計劃一樣,《力爭上游 — 萬眾一心》會定期進行審核及評價。香港足總策略委員會於2015/16球季對該計劃進行審核並修訂出最新版本。

  • 董事局的方向及策略的考慮優次方針維持正確
  • 原計劃已經得到政府同意,並用作香港賽馬會資助的基礎,所以新版本於原則上不可與原計劃偏差太遠
  • 所有已經得到政府同意的關鍵績效指標必須維持不變
  • 原計劃文件太冗長 (包括執行摘要),令持分者及工作夥伴難以理解
  • 計劃過份集中於「球場上」的足球發展
  • 為令計劃更全面,有必要將計劃焦點擴闊至「球場外」的事項,尤其於管治、管理及組織架構上

  • 足球發展 (「舊版本」所聚焦的範圍)
  • 管治
  • 管理及組織架構







  1. Would you provide more information about the progress for Football Training Center in Tseung Kwan O.


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  2. Dear Roy, this is what I wrote in response to a similar question raised recently...Yes, there has been a lot of progress. In December we appointed a Project Manager (a Company called Advisian) who has been doing a great job in terms of moving things forward. We also appointed a design team (Mannings) earlier this year and they have prepared working drawings and submitted them to the Government for approval. The tenders for the main contractors are due back next week and we are in negotiation with the Government on the land licence. June and July will be crucial months because we want to finalise everything and put all the approvals in place so we can start work on site in August. If all goes to plan the centre will be open in July 2017.
    We are still planning 6 pitches (3 natural turf and 3 artificial).
    There are still some key challenges to overcome, particularly engineering ones linked to it being a landfill site and some sensitive land licence issues to resolve. I am also a bit nervous about whether the tenders will come in within budget.
    The plans look really good and subject to all of the outstanding issues mentioned above, it will be a really exciting project and will make a major contribution to football in Hong Kong.
    Thanks for asking the question.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Two observations about head coaches in the HKPL -

    1. Foreign coaches
    If you look at the last ten seasons, we always have at least two head coaches from overseas footballing communities in our top-tier league.

    After the establishment of HKPL, this number stays the same.

    However, in the coming season, Steve Gallan appears to be the only foreign coach in the league.

    2. 'B' Licence head coaches
    For the past two seasons, there has been one 'B' Licence head coach every season.

    In the coming season, according to newspaper reports, there will be at least two 'B' license head coaches appointed as head coaches of Tai Po and Yuen Long.

    Foreign coach -1 'B' Licence coach +1.

    The Club Licensing Regulations requires clubs to appoint a head coach with a ‘A’ Licence Certificate, a coach who have already have started the required education course, or an experienced individual who has been a head coach at professional level or national team in the past five years before appointment.

    Not sure about Tai Po but last season we see Metro Gallery evaded the rule by appointing a 'A' License coach as 'dummy'.

    HKFA offered AFC 'A' Coaching Course twice in history. But where are all the 'A' License coaches? Some of them become football commentators, some work as youth coaches in football schools.
    'A' license coaches are meant to be coaching high performance football at elite level, but sadly the coaching opportunities aren't there.

    Could we resolve the issue by more strictly enforcing the regulations? I don't know, but I know we all want to see more quality coaches get back on the sidelines, rather than having them staying on the sidelines.

    1. Dear hkgoalgoalgoal, you make a very good point. We will be assessing the Club Licence applications more strictly this year and we have already informed some of the clubs that they will fail. That doesn't mean that they will not be able to play but it does mean that the Board may impose some form of sanction.
      We will also be running an A Licence course later this year to enable club coaches to register.
      I agree that having good quality coaches on Board is essential.

    2. Mark,

      Despite the warning you mentioned, Yuen Long announced the appointment of Tsang Chiu Tat(AFC 'B' Licence coach) as their new head coach last Saturday.

      Now let's see what happens next.

  4. Hi Mark,

    Kitchee have just confirmed the signing of Zhi-Gin Lam on a two-year contract. In an interview, he expressed his interest in representing Hong Kong.

    This reminds me of your idea about "sporting passport". Is there any update on it? Have you heard any news from the Immigration Department?

    1. Dear hkgoalgoalgoal,
      There has not been much progress to be honest. I have met with a number of other sports who share the same problem because we thought a collective effort might be more productive. In actual fact it has slowed things down.
      As you know we have 'naturalised' a number of foreign players in the last few years who now represent Hong Kong. Some people like this, others don't. It is a sensitive subject.

  5. Hi Mark,

    I have been thinking the feasibility of legalising the betting on local football games and came up a conclusion that this would easily spur the development of Hong Kong football. Does it include in HKFA's proposal to HKGOV? May I also know your personal opinion regrading this topic?

    Thank you

    1. Dear Felix,
      I think my personal feelings on this are well known. I have raised this in the past with both the HK Jockey Club and the Government. Neither seem keen to change things. They are concerned about corruption and the encouragement of gambling!
      I don't subscribe to these views because we all know people are betting on local football now and that there is a massive illegal and unregulated market.
      Legalising it and regulating it would help to control the situation (but would never eliminate corruption and illegal betting). However it could provide a fund to pay for football development as in other countries.
      So basically, I agree with you but I am not convinced it will happen any time soon.

  6. Hi Mark, I was wondering why the FA insisted to invite that Chinese team,that youth team, to play the Premier League? Given that we already have 10 teams next season. Honestly, I think it would bring nothing but troubles to football in Hong Kong. Just look at the history of those chinese teams played in Hong Kong.

    Furthermore, you mentioned that the FA actually subsidized premier league teams a lot, why should we use our money to subsidize a team from other country?

    1. Dear mrtomli, sorry for not responding sooner, I have been on holiday. Thanks for your comments.
      Actually it was the mainland club that approached us first and at the time we didn't have 10 teams confirmed. In fact at one stage it looked like we only had 8. Discussions progressed and it is only recently that we find we have 11 teams.
      We won't be subsidising them because there is a significant 'joining fee' that they will be paying. We are also insisting that they sign 8 local players.
      I understand the concerns about this team but I do not worry about the integrity issues. From this season the AFC is paying the international monitoring agent Sportradar to monitor all of our league matches. If there is any manipulation by any teams they will be found out and we will take disciplinary action.
      I hope that allays your fears a little bit.

  7. Hi Mark,

    Let's say the reason behind inviting a youth team of GZ R&F over is to enlarge the pie - creating a win-win situation by attracting foreign investment, promoting the league across Asia, increasing competitiveness and thus improving standard of the league and so on.

    I understand it is not easy to revoke a made decision. Why not invite another team from Macau or Taiwan over, to show that this decision is nothing political, merely for the good of Hong Kong football? Besides that, it would be ideal to have an even number of teams in the league under the double round robin system as there will be no bye.

    As we look to expand the league, it is important to make sure these teams truly improve the playing standard. They must recruit enough foreign players to form a competitive team. Too many lobsided games would not be good.

    By the way, allowing foreign teams to have their home base at their own country makes more sense to me. They would travel less and it is easier for them to build their fan base at home. For HK youngsters, it's time for them to have a rewarding experience of truly playing away in unfamiliar surroundings.

    Hopefully we will have a marvellous season this time.

    1. Dear hkgoalgoalgoal, sorry for not replying sooner, I have been away. Actually we have been talking to teams in Macau. They are interested but could not sort things out in time for this season. Maybe next year they will be ready and we can expand to 12 teams.
      I agree that all teams need to field strong teams with a blend of local and foreign players, that is why we are insisting that R and F sign some local HK players.
      The R and F team will actually be a separate Company from the main R and F team with a company registered here in Hong Kong. Regarding home venue, you could argue that a HK venue is more appropriate than one over the border. Having spoken to some of our existing clubs, they prefer to play R and F in Hong Kong. It saves money and there is no problem with the visa for their foreign players.
      I too look forward to the next season. These few months have been quite frustrating as we try and confirm the teams, the venues, the schedule etc etc. I'll be happy when the season starts!
      As ever, thanks for your comments. Regards

  8. Hi mark,

    My opinion is there is no point of getting the Chinese teams to play in our league if they don't contribute to the hk premier league. To me, We should do it as a 'give and take'. They take the advantage of training their young players in our league. We should also take the advantages of them in other ways. Eg. get them to pay entry fee, get them to pay for advertisements on tv during prime time for promoting the hk premier league etc.

    1. Hi Nick,
      I agree with you. We are charging them a significant fee which will be used to benefit the other clubs. We are also insisting on them signing and playing local players. My hope is that they are competitive and it improves the standard of football here. We will monitor what happens and this will help to determine our strategy for next year.
      I know that the political system and situation is different here but Swansea City and Cardiff (2 teams from Wales) have played in the English Premier League without any problems. There are other examples in Asia including Singapore and Australia.
      I hope you enjoy the season.

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  11. Guangzhou R&F participation is such a farce. Their participation devalues the HKPL. It is now demoted to the status of being a training ground for Chinese Super League clubs.

    I hate to repeat it, but the HKPL is not an attractive product. It is nothing different from the HK First Division League that preceded it.

    If we don't have a true home and away system then there is no way the league will work. Getting a club from Macau to join is the right direction, but we need more. I still think HKFA should work with FAS of Singapore, Brunei FA and Chinese Taipei FA to build a joint product.

    4 clubs from HK, 4 clubs from Singapore, 2 clubs from Chinese Taipei, 1 club each from Macau and Brunei, total 12 clubs. All clubs must sign participation agreement for 3 years, no promotion/relegation during that time. You will get a much better product that is great value for sponsors and interesting to fans and by extension to TV companies. It will be much better than the laughing stock that you have now.

  12. Hi Allan,
    Thanks for your comments. I'm going to resist the temptation to address them in a reply now because I intend to write a full blog about this subject in the next few days. There have been so many views expressed on the HKPL 2016/17 I think I need to take time to consider them all and write a detailed response. No doubt that will create a lot of debate so please feel free to come back to me once you have had my explanation. I assure you, I won't ignore your comments.

  13. Re: Kitchee Pitches:

    “The opening today (9 September, 2015) of the first purpose-built football training centre in the city helps promote local football development. Funded by a HK$63 million donation from The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre, located in Shek Mun, Sha Tin, will be open to the public and feature extensive training facilities to nurture local football talents”.

    how are these pitches helping HKFA youth players.... the pitches were paid for in part by the HKJC - its hard to understand why these pitches are never available for the HKFA National Youth Teams to train on. They are always struggling for pitch space ( nothing new in HK for rugby or football) but these pitches can only be booked a maximum 2 weeks in advance. No time is allocated for the youth teams to use the pitches - even during the day/ during the summer i.e. when the national teams need them to train for AFC events !

  14. Hi Doug,
    I take your point but I'm not sure it's entirely true. We used the Kitchee Centre last season as the venue for one of our youth leagues and we have used it sometimes for other youth competitions and training. Also I know that as part of their agreement with the Jockey Club they MUST make the centre available for public use for at least 35% of the time. As I understand it bookings are made one month in advance. I might be wrong but I will check this.
    The 35% public use availability will be the same with our Training Centre when it is built.
    You are right to point out the lack of facilities in Hong Kong. This remains our biggest barrier to becoming a successful football country. Regards Mark

  15. Dear Mr. Sutcliffe,

    Hi. I see HKFA decided to accept Eastern AA's withdrawal from the AFC competitions in 2017. But the replacement club Kitchee looks like they will NOT use Hong Kong Stadium for their AFC competition matches, and will use Mong Kok Stadium instead.

    Now all of Hong Kong national team's friendly matches next month will also play in Mong Kok Stadium.

    So I guess I should go to Hong Kong Stadium and take plenty of nice pictures before the government gets it demolished and build blocks of up-scale flats there.



  16. Hi Allan,
    Just for the record (and I'm not talking out of school because I made my position clear at the Board Meeting) I think Eastern should play in the AFC Competition if they can prove that they have resolved their financial problems. Sporting merit should prevail in my opinion. However the Board disagreed which they are entitled to do.
    Now that the decision has been made it is up to the club to decide where to play their matches.
    Similarly the Coach and the players of the HKRT prefer to host these friendly matches at Mong Kok. Do you think that Cambodia and Turkmenistan would go close to filling the HK Stadium? I'm not convinced. It's all about preparing for the EAFF qualification in November now. I'm not sure that playing in an empty stadium would be that good for the team right now.
    Having said that I completely agree that the HKS should be used more. Unfortunately we have been told by the Government that we can't use it in December (maintenance) or from the middle of March onwards until the end of the season (rugby 7s and transition from winter to summer grass).
    Who knows what will happen to the existing HKS when the new Kai Tak one eventually opens - you might well be right.

  17. thanks sharing us about the good information, and thanks all feedback, very helpful