Professional Football in Thailand Update
April 14th 2020 at 10.00am at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Football Association of Thailand and Thai League Co Ltd. organised a meeting for the Thai League 1 and 2 member clubs to discuss the resolution of the professional football league after the epidemic virus, Covid-19. This meeting was led by Dr. Somyot Phung Muang with representatives from all Thai League 1 and 2 clubs present as well as a representative from the Sports Authority of Thailand.
The first point on the agenda of the meeting was to discuss a return date for football competitions to start back again, taking into account, guidelines from the public health sector with regards to social distancing. On the grounds of public safety it unanimously agreed that the league fixtures should start back again in September 2020 and end in May 2021 to give enough time for all fixtures to be played with cup competitions resuming at the same time.
The transfer windows will move forwards in accordance with the league start and finish dates. However, the exact dates of these transfer windows has not been agreed or disclosed at this point. The main reason for this is that it has yet to be agreed if the league will start afresh in September with all teams having played zero games and with zero points or if the results from the leagues first 4 games will be carried over when the league starts back again in September. This will be decided in a meeting scheduled for the 22nd of April.
The next item on the agenda is the salary of coaching staff and players during the next 4 months prior to the league starting back again. The FA Thailand and the member clubs of the league unanimously agreed that they would follow FIFA guidelines. These state that being fair to players and staff but at the same time helping clubs in this difficult financial time is the best solution. Therefore, T1 and T2 clubs will negotiate with its coaching staff and players about being paid 50% of their contracted salary during the 4 month hiatus.
The next item on the agenda was to discuss how future league season, start and finish dates would be effected by the current season changes. The new dates fall in line with the European leagues and this is considered by both the FA Thailand and the member clubs to be a good thing. The general consensus is that future seasons will start in September and finish in May. Another positive of the new dates is that the majority of the rainy season will be finished by the time the season starts. The discussion moved to how rainy season effected the quality of football and the attendance of fans to games. So the changes being made look like they will be permanent and that are for the good of Thai football in the future.
The Sports Authority of Thailand were present at the meeting and were asked about financial support to help clubs that would not be able to survive the financial loses that these new changes will incur. Players from the clubs that can’t afford to keep paying the players will also need support. Further negotiating will take place once the implications of these changes are better known with both the FA Thailand and the Sports Authority of Thailand agreeing that some sort of financial support will be needed to help certain clubs and players.
So for all those fans hoping for a return to football in May they will have to wait to get back to cheering their favourite teams a bit longer. Only time will tell if these changes will have a positive effect on Thai football long term but initially it’s going to have big financial implications for so many teams and players.