Singha Corporation will be a global partner of English club Chelsea at least until 2017 after its executive Piti Bhirombhakdi signed a new contract with the European champions at Stamford Bridge last week.
The new three-year deal is worth about 400 million baht with CEO Don Gourlay representing the London team. The current contract expiries in 2014.
Piti said the parternship between the two parties had gone from strength to strength.
"We are not just business partners, we are more like friends or a family," he said.
Also at the signing ceremony were a group of Thai journalists and four Spanish players _ Fernando Torres, Juan Mata, Oriol Romeu and Cesar Azpilicueta.
The journalists were pleased to have a close encounter with former Liverpool star Torres and Mata. Some of the journalists hoped that one of the other two players would be club captain John Terry but their wish was not fulfilled for the obvious reason.
Surprisingly, the quartet all played in Chelsea's comfortably 4-1 win over Norwich City in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge two days later with Torres and Mata in the starting line-up.
Midfielder Romeu and right-back Azpilicueta were brought on as second-half substitutes. Romeu, who made his season debut, and Azpilicueta, who made his first appearance for Chelsea, produced some decent performances and could be future stars.
Mata has been one of the best players in the English game since he joined Chelsea last year. He was brilliant against Norwich and scored one goal. The 24-year-old Spain international formed a formidable midfield trio with new signings Eden Hazard and Oscar.
Hazard, dubbed the new Enzo Schifo, has been one of the best buys of the season so far despite his 32 million transfer fee. The 21-year-old was on target against Norwich.
Oscar, also 21, was dazzling and came close to scoring on several occasions in that match. He scored twice in Brazil's 6-0 thumping of Iraq in a friendly on Friday.
Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo may want to emulate Barcelona's style by using diminutive midfielders. Oscar stands 1.78m tall while Mata and Hazard both are both 1.70m.
It suggests Thai officials should stop complaining that our national team has not fared so well on the international stage because we lack tall players.
Torres has been enjoying his best spell at Stamford Bridge since his 50 million move from Liverpool last year. But apart from his well-taken header against Norwich _ his sixth goal of the season in all competions _ which cancelled out Grant Holt's shock lead, Torres made very few contributions and squandered several good chances.
Not surprisingly, Chelsea are reportedly chasing Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao, one of the hottest strikers at the moment.
With the departure of Ivory Coast forward Didier Drogba in the summer, Torres is only one of Chelsea's two senior strikers with the other being Daniel Sturridge.
With their fast start to the season, Chelsea seem to be a genuine contender to reclaim the Premier League title they last won in 2010. They are leading on 19 points, four ahead of the Manchester duo.
The following day after Chelsea hammered Norwich, Manchester United won 3-0 at Newcastle to stay second ahead of Manchester City on goal difference.
Thai fans could see for themselves a match between Chelsea and Manchester United in Bangkok. Singha, which is also a global partner of United, is trying to arrange a clash between the two giants in Bangkok to celebrate the company's 80th anniversary next year.
"The 'dream match' would be a memorable event," said Piti, who refused to commit that the game would happen.
Singha marketing director Chatchai Wiratyotin added that it was almost certain that the two clubs would play here next year _ either they would play against each other or face other teams.
"There is a 90 per cent chance that the two teams will come to Thailand next year," Chatchai said.
About the author
- Writer: Wanchai Rujawongsanti
Position: Sports Editor