Domestic ties called off

Domestic ties called off

Nov 15 WC qualifierto go ahead as slated

Thai football chief Somyot Poompunmuang, right, during yesterday's meeting. Tawatchai Kemgumnerd Tawatchai Kemgumnerd
Thai football chief Somyot Poompunmuang, right, during yesterday's meeting. Tawatchai Kemgumnerd Tawatchai Kemgumnerd

The remaining Thai League matches this season have now been officially called off as all but one of the 18 top-flight clubs yesterday backed an earlier Football Association of Thailand's decision to this extent.

The other competitions were also cancelled including the League Cup showdown as finalists SCG Muang Thong United and Buriram United were declared joint champions and will share the prize money.

All the remaining games this year were shelved on Friday, a day after the sad passing away of His Majesty the King, which plunged the whole nation into a state of mourning.

The government has sought cooperation of all parties in the country to abstain from holding any 'entertainment activities' for a month as a mark of respect to the nation's sentiments.

The FAT held a meeting yesterday to review its Friday's decision following protests from some clubs.

In yesterday's vote, Chonburi were the only club in the 18-team Thai League to voice opposition to the cancellation of the remaining matches.

The development reaffirmed the FAT's earlier decision that Muang Thong, who lead the league standings with 80 points from 31 matches and are five ahead of Bangkok United, will be the new champions.

This also means that Chainat and Army United will join already-demoted BBCU in the second-tier League One next season.

The FAT had second thoughts about its earlier decision when government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd said on Saturday that the scheduled football matches can continue during the official 30-day mourning period.

After yesterday's meeting, FAT president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang said: "The matter was reviewed and it was decided to uphold our earlier decision to cancel all remaining domestic matches until the end of this year.

"Representatives from all 18 Thai League clubs attended today's meeting and 17 of them voted to cancel the matches. Only one [Chonburi] voted to continue the competition."

Somyot said sponsors and broadcaster TrueVisions also supported the cancellation.

Chonburi media director Jeerasak Chomthong said the Sharks wanted to continue the competition because government spokesman Sansern had clearly stated that the scheduled football matches can continue during the mourning period.

Surprisingly Chainat, who voted in favour of the cancellation, were infuriated by the outcome.

"Is this fair to Chainat and Army?" asked Chainat vice-president Anirut Nakasai.

He said the Hornbills may disband the club or bring the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport or world football's governing body Fifa.

With three round of matches remaining this season, six other teams could be relegated.

Somyot added that the FA Cup title and prize money will be shared by the four semi-finalists -- Chonburi, Sukhothai, Chainat and Ratchaburi.

On the issue of expanding the top league, Somyot said nine clubs voted to keep the number at 18 teams, while six were in favour of increasing the total to 20 teams.

Somyot also revealed that Australia, who are scheduled to play a Group B match of the Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup against Thailand on Nov 15 in Bangkok, are keen to have the game as scheduled.

"We have received the answer from the FFA [the Football Federation Australia] that they cannot accept any change to the match or to play it at a neutral venue, so we will have to go ahead and organise the match on Nov 15," said Somyot.

For League One, Thai-Honda, with 52 points after 26 matches, were declared the winners and promoted to the Thai League along with Ubon UMT (49 points) and Port (47). No teams were relegated.

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