Hong Kong First Division League
|Number of teams||15|
|Levels on pyramid||2|
|Promotion to||Hong Kong Premier League|
|Relegation to||Hong Kong Second Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Hong Kong Junior Shield|
|Current champions||Kitchee (6th title)
|Most championships||South China (41 titles)|
|2013–14 Hong Kong First Division League|
The Hong Kong First Division League (Chinese: 香港甲組聯賽) is a Hong Kong semi-professional league for men's football clubs starting from the 2014/2015 Season. It was the top-tier division football league in Hong Kong before 2014 and became the second level afterwards. Established in 1908, it is the oldest in Asia. It does not affiliate to any football leagues in the rest of People's Republic of China.
Since 1908, a total of 28 clubs have been crowned champions of the Hong Kong football system. South China are the most successful club, having won 41 times since their first participation in 1941. They are also the current champions.
- Each team plays the other teams twice, one home and one away game. The ticket profits go to the home team. If there are two matches in the same stadium on the day, the profits are shared between the two home teams.
- Since most of the teams do not have a home ground, the games are mostly played in Hong Kong Stadium or Mongkok Stadium. It happens that one team plays their home games in both stadiums in the same season.
- The bottom two teams are relegated to the Hong Kong Second Division League.
- Each season, HKFA decides the maximum number of foreign and mainland Chinese players each club can have and how many can play in each game. This season, a maximum of 7 foreign players (mainland Chinese players included) can be registered for a team, where no more than 5 of them could be played simultaneously on the pitch, with 1 more can be placed as substitutes.
There were two teams, The Army and The Police, that are not required to be relegated. The league explained that soldiers in The Army team were frequently redeployed to another country and hence it was very difficult to establish teamwork. The Police team were not required to be relegated as they supply the venue Police Sports and Recreation Club for the league.
Another relegation exception was made to South China Athletic Association during the 2006/07 season. The Hong Kong Football Association approved a request from South China to remain in the first division on 14 June 2006. The reason for exception was not disclosed. The public believed that this application was allowed probably because South China has a long history in the First Division League and it would otherwise be humiliating for the club to be relegated to the Second Division. Another reason is that other football clubs rely on the large fan base of South China to generate revenues. Relegation would have resulted in a lose-lose situation for all sides.
As Hong Kong is a small place, most clubs do not have space to build home stadiums. Even if they have their own training ground (as in the case of South China), the league matches were played elsewhere. The First Division League games were usually played in Hong Kong Stadium or Mong Kok Stadium.
Since 2009/10, the Hong Kong Football Association have assigned home grounds for every participating clubs.
The following table is a list of stadiums of the clubs in 2013/14.
|Biu Chun Rangers||Sham Shui Po Sports Ground||Sham Shui Po||2,194|
|Citizen||Tsing Yi Sports Ground||Tsing Yi||1,500|
|Eastern Salon||Shing Mun Valley Sports Ground (2 home matches)
Mong Kok Stadium (7 home matches)
Sham Shui Po Sports Ground (2 home matches)
Sham Shui Po
|Happy Valley||Tai Po Sports Ground1 (8 home matches)
Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground (2 home matches)
Kowloon Bay Sports Ground (1 home match)
Siu Sai Wan
|Kitchee||Mong Kok Stadium||Mong Kok||6,664|
|South China||Hong Kong Stadium||So Kon Po||40,000|
|Southern||Aberdeen Sports Ground||Aberdeen||4,0002|
|Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei||Tsing Yi Sports Ground||Tsing Yi||1,500|
|Sun Pegasus||Mong Kok Stadium||Mong Kok||6,664|
|Tuen Mun||Tuen Mun Tang Shiu Kin Sports Ground||Tuen Mun||2,200|
|Yokohama FC Hong Kong||Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground||Tseung Kwan O||3,5003|
|Yuen Long||Yuen Long Stadium||Yuen Long||5,000|
1 As Siu Sai Wan Sports Ground will undergo renovation during the season, it will not be used for football matches within the construction period. Home matches of Happy Valley during the peroid will be played at Tai Po Sports Ground.
2 The capacity of Aberdeen Sports Ground is 9,000, but only the 4,000-seater main stand is opened for football matches.
3 The capacity of Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground is 3,500, but it can be expended to 5,000 if the temporary stand is opened.
The following 12 clubs are competing in the Hong Kong First Division League during the 2013–14 season.
|First season in
|Number of seasons
in top division
|First season of
current spell in
|Last top division title|
|Biu Chun Rangers||6th||1965–66||35||2012–13||1||1970–71|
|Eastern Salon||3rd, Second Division||1936–37||59||2013–14||4||1994–95|
|Happy Valley||2nd, Second Division||1959–60||48||2013–14||6||2005–06|
|Sunray Cave J.C. Sun Hei||7th||1994–95||20||1994–95||3||2004–05|
|Yokohama FC Hong Kong||9th||2012–13||2||2012–13||0||N/A|
|Yuen Long||1st, Second Division||1961–62||20||2013–14||1||1962–63|
Since 1945 (i.e. after WWII, when HKFA has held a complete record of the competition), there are 4 teams which have remained unbeaten throughout the whole season.
- Navy B (1945–46)
1945–46 There were 10 teams in the First Division. Navy B finished as 4th with a result of 5 wins, 4 draws and 0 losses. Navy B became the first team to go unbeaten in all league and cup matches in a season.
- South China (1977–78, 1985–86)
1977–78 There were 12 teams in the First Division. South China finished as the Champions with a magnificent result of 20 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses. South China became the first team in the League to go unbeaten in a season. The two drawn matches were against Eastern and Tung Sing.
In 1985–86 there were 2 unbeaten teams in the league. Both South China and Happy Valley topped the league with 10 wins and 8 draws. South China won the league with a goal difference of +21 five goals better than the +16 held by Happy Valley. South China became the first team to hold a record of 2 unbeaten seasons.
- Seiko (1978–79)
1978–79 In the season immediately after South China becoming the first unbeaten team, Seiko became the second team which achieved this result. With a slightly poorer result (19 wins and 3 draws) compared to the previous year's South China, Seiko still became the Champion of the season. The draw matches were against Kui Tan, Eastern and Caroline Hill. A more marvellous result for Seiko was that it won 5 out of the 6 competitions that season. The only trophy it failed to get was FA Cup, losing to Yuen Long by penalty kicks.
- Happy Valley (1985–86, 2002–03#)
1985–86 Happy Valley was unbeaten in the season, same as South China (10 wins and 8 draws). However, Happy Valley just claimed the runners-up because a worse goal difference. It became the first unbeaten team which could not gain the title for the season.
2002–03# Actually, according to the league table Happy Valley did not go unbeaten during this season. The 'losing' match was against Fukien. In that match, Happy Valley was originally the winning team. However, it was later discovered that an ineligible player was used during the game. Happy Valley was penalised with a 0–3 loss.
- Sun Hei (2002–03)
2002–03 Sun Hei became the fourth team to go the whole season without losing a game in the history of the league. However, they were only able to achieve a second place finish, one point behind Happy Valley.
Top goal scorers
- Season: 1957–58
- Number of goals: 40
- Team: South China
- Dale Tempest (Most times winner for Top Goal Scorer prize)
- Winning seasons: 1989–90, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1993–94, 1994–95
- Total goals: 160
- Played teams: Eastern, South China, Kitchee
- Yuen Kuen To (4 times Top Goal Scorer runner-up)
- Runner-up seasons: 1967–68, 1968–69, 1971–72, 1972–73
- Iain Hesford (Longest Clean Sheets)
- Record: 827 min
- Season: 1992–93
- He assisted Eastern to maintain a record of 0 conceded and 9 straight wins in the first 9 matches of 1992–93 season. His record ended when they played the second round match against South China at the 17th minute. The goalscorer was Loh Wai Chi.
- The Hong Kong Football Association
- Hong Kong national football team
- Hong Kong Second Division League
References and notes
- 傳媒報導 – 1 August 2006 羅傑承主政班費千萬增兵 南華搵摩連奴師兄執教, SCAA Fans Club official site, Accessed on 20 October 2007.
- 東方沙龍被編城門. Oriental Daily (in Chinese). 28 June 2013.
- 東尼 本地體壇 甲組賽主場安排惹不滿. Metropolis Daily (in Chinese). 27 June 2013.
- "體訊速遞：（足球）傑志飛馬「進佔」旺角場". Apple Daily. 24 May 2013.
- 李志堅傳帶兵投南華. Wen Wei Po (in Chinese). 28 June 2013.
- 聯賽長勝軍(上) (in Chinese). The HKFA website.
- 聯賽長勝軍(下) (in Chinese). The HKFA website.
- 甲組神射手回顧(上) (in Chinese). The HKFA website.
- 甲組神射手回顧(下) (in Chinese). The HKFA website.
- HKFA Webpage (in Chinese)(聯賽不失球紀錄的保持者─希福特)
- (Chinese) The Hong Kong Football Association
- Hong Kong Football
- Club Profiles
- RSSSF.com – Hongkong – List of Champions and Runners-Up