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The takeover: relighting the Dragon’s fire

FOOTBALL: After a long wait and much anticipation as to whether the island would still have a team competing in the second half of the AIS Southern Region 2 Division, the official takeover of Phuket FC was announced last Friday (July 8) at a press conference held at Royal Gems Pavilion in Thalang.


Matt Pond

Thursday 14 July 2016, 09:47AM

Royal Raya Sports’ Chairman and Vice Chairman Mr Pitipon Nukulpanitwipat (left) and  Mr Chatchai Rojrongsi. Photo: Hari Jib
Royal Raya Sports’ Chairman and Vice Chairman Mr Pitipon Nukulpanitwipat (left) and Mr Chatchai Rojrongsi. Photo: Hari Jib

During the press conference it was announced that Royal Gems and Rayaburi Group had taken over the club’s management and that they had set up a new company to run the “Andaman Dragon” called “Royal Raya Sport”.

The two main owners of the club were announced as Mr Chatchai Rojrongsi, Director of Royal Gems Pavilion, and Mr Pitipon Nukulpanitwipat, Director of the Raya group of hotels.

The company will be run with the assistance of former Thai national player Capt Tanattub Arjarayut along with Mr Pannapat Limsertto, who will assist with the overall club management. Pitaya “Odd” Pimarmman will continue as Coach, assisted by Mr Niwat Nuisarha.

The ideology of the new setup is to develop Phuket FC into a stronger and bigger team capable of reaching the Thai Premier League.

“Unlike in the past, we want the team’s fanclubs to be united because we have only one [Phuket] team. If you come to the stadium but do not cheer Phuket, that means you are not a fan,” Mr Chatchai said.

“We believe that we now have the best team we have ever had, and with the help of the media we want to give this team a chance to advance to the next level,” he added.

Coach Odd, who himself was uncertain of his position with the club until very close to Friday’s press conference, said, “In the past we had something very wrong with the team’s tactics, but now that we have the assistance of Capt Tanattub, who will help with training and tactics, we are certain to have a more disciplined team.”

Coach Odd’s assistant, Mr Niwat, added, “We apologise for the team’s performance in the first leg of the season, but leg two is a new beginning for us all.”

Capt Tanattub said, “I have been in Phuket for 30 years now and it is my pleasure to have been asked to help Phuket FC. I would like to thank the new management team for giving me an opportunity to be involved and I promise to help bring Phuket FC to be famous once more.”

Mr Pannapat added, “I was born in Phuket, so I’m proud to now be working with the team from my home town.

“I understand how the club’s management will support the team and how they want the team to move forward with everyone cheering and supporting. Please give us a chance to show the true spirit of the club and bring back smiles to the faces of all Phuket people.”

There were a number of representatives from the club’s fanclubs and media in attendance at the press conference, and a number of questions raised, the first being why Mr Pitipon and Mr Chatchai had decided to become involved with the club. Their reply was that although they were not Phuket-born, they do have businesses on the island, so they want to give something back to Phuket.

They also said that they want the team to go to the very highest level within Thailand, and if possible in Asia.

When asked about a budget for the team, their reply was simply: “It’s a company secret, but we will base our budget on the team’s ability and how we progress this season.”

As for whether it were possible for the club to return to Division 1, they said, “Sure we can.”

Also questioned was the company’s concept for the future of the team, something which has never really been thought about in the past, but now the new management want to use what they called an “Inside Out” concept whereby they want the players to live well and have their bodies and minds ready to play.

Mr Pitipon and Mr Chatchai said that Phuket FC players receive the best training possible and are cheered on by some of the best fans around, and that these points make up the “Inside Out” concept.

Turning to the club’s training facilities, as the team has recently been training at the dilapidated Fifa Tsunami Memorial Football Ground at Ao Makham, the new management said that Phuket FC’s previous owner Pramookpisitt Achariyachai, who gave them the club for free, has agreed to allow the team to use the Republic Training Ground in Chalong. However, they are looking to develop the Fifa ground in the not-so-distant future.

When asked how they could develop the ground, the reply was that they were currently unsure as they had not been to check on its current state.

“Our main focus is to first develop the team, we can think about the training facilities at a later time.”

Asked if contact was first made two months ago with previous president MaAnn Samran about the takeover and that a deal could not be closed because someone else involved with the club wanted to find someone themselves to take over, the pair said that these rumours were untrue and that the new management were still talking to MaAnn.

“We approached MaAnn less than one month ago, and MaAan still supports and helps us,” was the reply.

Another issue raised was what the new management wanted the club to achieve this season. To this, it was said that the hope was to finish the season in the top four, but definitely no lower than fourth.

However, it was recognised that the squad is missing a striker and that finding a suitable one is now the management’s top priority: “We have to find one, and they have to be a good one.”

Finally, when asked how long the management believed it would take to reach their goal with the club, it was said that it should be in not more than four years, however, progress will be taken year by year. “If we cannot reach our goal in four years, then we should put our hands up and say that we are not the right team to be managing the Phuket FC.”



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