Professional Football in Thailand Returns?
FA Thailand met on the 7th of April to discuss the Thai League 1 – 4 getting postponed till August or resuming as planned at the start of May but hosting all matches behind closed doors. FA Thailand deputy secretary-general on international affairs, Mr. Pathit Supapong, stated that a video conference between the league and FA took place on Tuesday the 7th of April to determine the 2020 Thai League season’s fate. The decision to be made is either the league being pushed back until August or the competition continuing on the 2nd of May.
If the FA and league unanimously agree on delaying the league until August, the decision will have a knock on effect with regards domestic competitions going forwards. The effect of restarting in August, could be shortening of the league to only one leg and elimination of a domestic cup competitions. Subsequently, clubs will be informed and ask for their opinions via email.
If the verdict is to resume in early May, the downsides will be that games will be behind closed doors without fans and players may feel their health is at risk. The positives are that recommencing the league would encourage fans to stay home as live broadcasting of competitive games will provide home entertainment for people starved of the football they love. The FA Thailand referred to the J League friendlies that have been played behind closed doors generating a positive response with domestic football fans. For the league to start back in May the FA Thailand will need approval and receive full support from the government.
One of the major outcomes of this meeting has been announced. The FA Thailand have stated starting on the 2nd of May as being unrealistic. The main reason given for the delay is the Thai government’s emergency decree that is scheduled to end on the 30th of April. To oblige with the law, physical and technical training can’t take place so teams won’t be ready to resume competitive games without a period of training. It is thought that clubs will be provided with 3-4 weeks to prepare and therefore a more realistic start back date is late in May instead of the beginning of May. However, there is still no verdict regarding this decision. As a result, another meeting between the association, league and clubs is due to take place on the 14th of April.
At this meeting on the 14th clubs will have their input into when and how the league should start back. Positive signs at the moment are that it has not been pushed back to August. This shows the general consensus is to start back as soon as possible. Clubs will be losing money and the need to get back to playing is important not only for the game itself but for clubs to survive. At the same time the health of the country is more important than the health of the game.
Another report released from yesterday’s meeting is that if the current Thai League 1-4 and national team campaign doesn’t continue the FA will lose an estimate of 2 billion baht, mainly from sponsorships and broadcasting rights revenue. This will obviously have a major knock on effect to the clubs.