Mr Pitipol answered questions from the Phuket press at a conference alongside the club’s consultant, Thipsunanta Krajang, at the meeting room of the Tourism & Sports Phuket office at Surakul Stadium, on the outskirts of Phuket Town, at 2pm this afternoon.
“We cannot continue to play in the Thai league. We cannot enter next year’s league because we have been stopped by football’s governing body Fifa. If we do not clear the B83mn debt, we cannot get the club licence to be able to continue to play,” Mr Pitipol told The Phuket News at today’s press conference.
“The debt comes from three of Phuket FC’s former players suing Phuket FC for having their contracts terminated in 2014. Those players are Alonso Jose Carvalho da Silva, Marcio Gleydson da Silva Santos and Roland Gunter Vargas Aguilera,” he continued.
“They have sued Phuket FC, but the previous owners of Phuket FC did not really co-operate with this issue, so the three players filed a complaint to Fifa, making this issue a lot bigger,” said Mr Pitipol.
“The players originally got kicked out of the club because they were doing things they were not supposed to… bringing young women into the camp, turning up late for training and so on,” he explained.
“But the ex-president of Phuket FC didn’t submit his reasons for terminating the contracts. This meant that the players did not think they did anything wrong, and there was no evidence,” he said.
Documents addressed to Phuket FC and the three players from the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, from as far back as 2014 and as recent as June this year, were presented by Mr Pitipol at the conference.
Documents from Dec 18, 2014 addressed the dispute between the three former players and Phuket FC, when the club was under the ownership of Mr Pramookpisitt, and a letter from a Fifa attorney announced Fifa’s decision that Phuket FC must pay the former players money over the disputes.
In July 2017, another set of notices were sent notifying Phuket FC that it had been found guilty of failing to comply with Fifa’s decision passed in December 2014. The letter stated that Phuket FC would be unable to continue its licence unless it paid the following amounts:
- B849,915 in fines from Fifa
- B35.27mn to Roland Gunter Vargas Aguilera
- B24.3mn to Alonso Jose Carvalho da Silva
- B23.39mn to Marcio Gleydson da Silva Santos
“We received all of these documents at once, last month (Oct). We never received any of the previous documents,” said Mr Pitipol.
With regards to what Phuket FC could have done differently to prevent the termination of an eight-year-old club, Mr Pitipol said, “I just wish that the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) had been fair to us as the club’s current owners, because it’s not our fault.
“We had previously asked for their financial support with funding the club, we requested an amount of B400,000, which they refused after finding out about the debts.
“They refused to help at all. I just wish we had gotten better support from them,” he said.
To put the extent of the debt into perspective, Mr Pitipol told The Phuket News that for the 2017 season over B10mn had been spent on running the club.
“How much we have spent on salaries and general management this year does not even reach B11mn,” he said.
“Now the debt will go to the ex-club president, (Mr Pramookpisitt)… he will have to clear the debts as he was the owner at the time.”
Mr Pramookpisitt was the owner of the football club from May 2012 until he announced his departure from the club in December 2015. (See story here.)
Mr Pramookpisitt gave the club, for free, to the current chief of the Cherng Talay Tambon Administrative Organisation (OrBorTor) MaAnn Samran. (See story here.)
In July 2016, Mr Pitipol, who is also Director of the Rayaburi Group of hotels, and Chatchai Rojrungrangsi, Director of Royal Gems Pavilion, jointly took over as the club’s presidents. (See story here.)
Attempts to contact Mr Pramookpisitt for comment today were unsuccessful, as were calls to Mr Pramookpisitt’s son, Pariyawat “Benz” Achariyachai, who was also involved in the running of the club.
However, the likelihood of a new club forming is quite large, said Mr Pitipol. However, he did not provide details.
“All players are now out of contract with Phuket FC, they are free to go anywhere. We are not suing them, they are not suing us… it’s a happy ending. It is possible there will be a new club under another name, perhaps Phuket FC’s former players can be hired,” he said.
“However, we want to warn anyone who might be thinking of starting or taking over a club in Thailand to be wary of situations like this, and to check thoroughly beforehand.
“Either way, we members of the Phuket FC, would like to continue to help and be participants in the Phuket community,” he said.