18-team TPL approved as BEC demoted
With no end in sight to the on-going legal wranglings, the Thai Premier League has decided against expanding the competition and opted to continue with the current 18-team set-up.
The decision has ended the uncertainty hanging over the future of BEC Tero Sasana, Port FC and TOT, who have all been now sentenced to a life in second-tier League One for a year at the least.
Last month, the TPL executive board announced the expansion of the league to 20 teams this year.
However, this was greeted with protests and giants Buriram United and Chonburi gave up their seats on the committee.
Following a two-hour TPL meeting at the Football Association of Thailand headquarters yesterday, FAT lawyer Narinpong Jinapak said: "The meeting has agreed to keep the league to 18 teams for the new TPL season."
The decision came a few days after BEC Tero Sasana chairman Brian L Marcar announced the sale of his club for 300 million baht to an undisclosed new owner.
BEC Tero have filed a lawsuit with the Administrative Court seeking three points from a controversial match which they lost 1-0 to Bangkok United but then claimed their opponents had exceeded their allotted quota of on-field foreign players.
Narinpong said: "BEC Tero Sasana have been relegated to League One with Port FC and TOT SC.
"Although BEC Tero have lodged a case with the Administrative Court, they have not been granted an injunction and the team did not use their right to file a case in the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport].
"I think the Administrative Court may take more than six months before making a decision, so BEC Tero Sasana will have to play in League One."
Concerning failure of cash-strapped Saraburi, TOT, Police United and Pattaya United to pay salaries to the players, Narinpong said: "We have advised these four clubs to come and clear the matter with the TPL on Feb 3 [tomorrow] at the FAT headquarters.
If any of these teams are not ready, there is a provision to strip them of their playing rights, the lawyer said.