Hong Kong First Division League
|Number of teams||15|
|Level on pyramid||
2 (2014– ) |
|Promotion to||Hong Kong Premier League|
|Relegation to||Hong Kong Second Division|
|Domestic cup(s)||Hong Kong Junior Shield|
Metro Gallery Sun Source (1st title) |
|Most championships||South China (41 titles)|
|2015–16 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.
Since 1945 (i.e. after World War II, 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
- Ho Cheung Yau (Chinese: 何祥友) (Most goals in a season)
- 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.
- 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