Thailand's football league season in balance

Thailand's football league season in balance

Clubs asked to decide fate of '20 campaign

Players and officials pose with the Thai League 1 trophy ahead of the 2020 season in February.
Players and officials pose with the Thai League 1 trophy ahead of the 2020 season in February.

The 2020 domestic league season is hanging in the balance as the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) has asked clubs whether they want to play the remainder of the campaign.

The season started in February and was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is scheduled to resume in September and end in May next year.

"The Football Association of Thailand, as the organiser of all professional football competitions [in the country], would like to know whether member clubs are ready to continue playing this season or not," FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang said in a letter to clubs dated July 13.

"If you want to compete, then please inform the association within seven days after receiving the letter."

Somyot said playing the remaining games of the season could mean teams receive less subsidy from the FAT.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic ... Thai football and involved parties have been affected," Pol Gen Somyot said in the letter.

"Due to the [government's] state of emergency and restrictions, we could not organise football competitions and this was an unexpected event."

Although football competitions can now be held, involved parties still have to strictly follow the government's saftety protocols, he said.

"An economic downturn ... has forced sponsors to change their policy and reduce their sponsorship fees," Somyot said.

"This has affected the income of the Football Association of Thailand and clubs to the extent that some clubs face difficulties to continue their teams."

The former national police chief apparently hit back at TrueVisions, the official broadcaster of all domestic leagues, which has demanded that the Thai League 1 season finish on Oct 25 as stipulated in the contract.

The company informed the FAT last week that it will not show live matches beyond that date although it is ready to negotiate for a new deal to broadcast games until the end of the year.

In a letter to the FAT, TrueVisions also demanded a reduction in rights fees because it got fewer games than what was stipulated in the contract due to a decision by the association to cut the number of teams in the top flight to 16 from the previous 18.

The bidding process for the next round of broadcasting rights for the domestic leagues has been completed, and while Somyot has not yet revealed the winner, it is apparently not TrueVisions.

TrueVisions got the broadcasting rights, which expire this year, when Worawi Makudi was FAT president.

Somyot, who has been FAT chief since 2016, earlier said he would discuss with clubs whether they were willing to play as many as three matches a week so that the season could finish by the end of the year as demanded by TrueVisions.

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