Former Happy Valley boss convicted for unpaid salaries

Former Happy Valley Boss Sentenced Over Salary Arrears: A Victory for Players

In a landmark ruling, the former head of Happy Valley has been directed to pay a hefty fine and carry out community service for the club’s unresolved salary payments dating back two years. This development highlights a notable shift in favor of players seeking justice in the local football scene, where such cases often go unaddressed.

The prolonged and contentious battle for owed salaries involving ten former players and staff at Happy Valley Football Club finally reached a verdict on 6 December. The resolution culminated in the court order for the club’s third-party entity responsible for salary disbursements, Happy Valley Football Club Ltd., to undergo liquidation.

The preceding day saw Chen Zhishi, the former club owner, facing penalties for his failure to meet salary obligations on time. The court mandated a $147,000 fine and 240 hours of community service for his role in the salary arrears debacle, marking a rare instance of accountability for a club benefactor in Hong Kong’s soccer history.

Chen’s legal defense traced the roots of the crisis back to the club’s plight in the 1990s, emphasizing his personal investments amounting to $10 million since 2016 to revive Happy Valley’s status in local football. Despite these assertions, the court found Chen guilty, underscoring the severity of the unresolved salary saga.

Following years of financial turmoil and disruptive actions, Happy Valley’s downfall appeared inevitable, as compliance issues mounted, prompting threats of play suspension and player protests. The club ultimately withdrew from the Premier League for the 2021-22 season, with players alleging a substantial debt totaling $5.5 million, leading to legal and regulatory interventions.

Despite the eventual settlement and liquidation of Happy Valley Football Club Ltd., lingering questions remain over unresolved debts and the future integrity of local football operations. The episode serves as a cautionary tale for clubs and stakeholders alike, highlighting the need for greater accountability and transparency within the community.

While the closure of this chapter brings a sense of resolution, the broader implications and lessons learned from the Happy Valley saga underscore the ongoing challenges and complexities facing the Hong Kong football landscape. As the dust settles on this turbulent episode, the enduring impact on player rights and club governance serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring struggles and triumphs within the sport.

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