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Top Thai leagues to be back in September, says FAT chief

Top Thai leagues to be back in September, says FAT chief

FOOTBALL: The country’s top two leagues will resume in September, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) said yesterday (Apr 14).

Football
By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 15 April 2020, 11:39AM


FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang attends a press conference yesterday (Apr 14). Photo: Bangkok Post

FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang attends a press conference yesterday (Apr 14). Photo: Bangkok Post

The move was unanimously agreed by FAT officials and representatives of Thai League 1 and Thai League 2 clubs at yesterday’s meeting, FAT president Somyot Poompunmuang told reporters.

The 2020 season will now end in May 2021.

“If the COVID-19 situation does not become worse, the leagues should be able to restart in September and end in May 2021,” Somyot said.

The cup competitions will be organised as usual, he said.

If the league season could resume in September, then this will become permanent as it will begin in that month and end in May like many leagues in Europe, Somyot said.

T1 and T2 clubs are allowed to cut their players’ salaries by up to 50%, according to Somyot.

However, he said he would discuss the matter with Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to avoid legal action from the affected players.

Somyot said he was unsure if clubs will receive supporting funds from the FAT in full.

TrueVisions, the broadcast rights holder, is due to pay the FAT its second tranche of fees of the year in July but Somyot said he did not know how much the company would pay.

Only four rounds of matches were played in the top two leagues before the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic last month.

Bangkok United and Ratchaburi are joint leaders with a maximum 12 points from four matches.

A meeting of Thai League 3 and Thai League 4 officials will be held later.

Meanwhile, Somyot said Thailand coach Akira Nishino did not have a problem after his salary was cut by 50%. (See story here).

“We have a lot of expenses but do not have income,” said Somyot.

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“He understands this.”

He also praised the Japanese coach for helping the FAT save money.

“I once asked him why he didn’t bring in Japanese coaches to help him. He said ‘why does the FAT have to pay for this?’ He said it would be better to use local coaches to learn his system,” Somyot said.

Nishino does not have much to do at the moment as Thailand’s World Cup qualifiers have been postponed.

Somyot also said Thailand may send a young team or a second-string side to compete in the AFF Suzuki Cup (Southeast Asian championship) in December because top players may have to help their clubs during that time.

AFC shutdown extended

The Asian Football Confederation announced yesterday the indefinite postponement because of the coronavirus of all matches scheduled for May and June, plunging the AFC Champions League into further disarray.

The region’s premier club competition was put on hold last month as the pandemic spread, and the latest reshuffle means the 32-team group stage will have to be completed in July before the already-postponed knock-out rounds start a month later.

“Following the continued preventive measures and travel restrictions put in place by several governments, the Asian Football Confederation has decided today to postpone all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June until further notice,” an AFC statement said.

“As one of the first confederations in world football to undertake precautionary measures in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the latest decision reinforces the AFC’s commitment to ensure the safety and wellbeing of players, participating teams, officials, fans and all stakeholders.”

Less than two of the six rounds of group-stage matches have been completed so far, meaning the competition will face severe congestion even if it returns in July.

The extended shutdown also affects the two-legged women’s Olympic qualifying play-off between China and South Korea, which had already been moved to June 1 and 9.

June qualifiers for the men’s 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup had already been postponed. 

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