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Professional Football In Thailand Returning Soon

2020 is the last year of the sponsorship agreement between True Vision and the FA Thailand for the rights to broadcast Thai football. For Thai football it was a bit of a worry as clubs rely on the money they get from TV sponsorship. It was the job of the FA Thailand to find a new sponsor or to renegotiate with True. With the money in Thai football already on the decline, losing the money from True was something that would greatly impact the financial side of football in Thailand.

In March 2020 when Covid19 caused the league to be suspended it was assumed that the league would restart as soon as possible and still finish in 2020. After numerous meetings between the FA Thailand and the Thai football clubs they came to the decision to restart in September to the surprise of a lot of people. The reasons given were partly to do with the virus situation but it was also stated that it would be better for Thai football to follow the European calendar of starting around September and finishing in May. The league would also avoid some of the rainy season by doing this.

At the time it didn’t seem that well thought through, yes signing players from Europe could be easier but signing players from other Asian leagues is now much more difficult. As it transpired it was not well thought through at all as no one invited True Vision to these meetings and as True hold the rights to the 2020 season with a contract ending in 2020, they should have been invited. So as it currently stands are True expected to pay the full amount to the FA Thailand yet only get to broadcast half the games as the games played in 2021 are not contracted to True Vision.

The FA Thailand have already negotiated potential new deals with other TV companies and it has been widely reported that a deal has been done with Danz. True have recently decided they will not pay the sponsorship money to the FA Thailand unless all games are completed in 2020, under the terms of the contract they have. This is something that time wise would be difficult but not impossible. However, it would mean scrapping the League Cup and FA Cup.

Some clubs upon the announcement of the new calendar renegotiated contracts with players who’s contracts were due to expire at the end of 2020. The new contracts are now set to expire in May 2021. If the league does finish in 2020 then clubs would have an extra 5 months worth of contracted players, which might not even take them to mid season for the 2021 season. So now it seems all three parties are at loggerheads due to poor planning of what was already a difficult situation.

The media have reported this week that the FA Thailand have accepted the current situation is not fair to True Vision and have offered True the chance to televise all games until the end of the season, finishing in 2021. This would mean the new TV sponsor would have to wait to take over the TV broadcasting rights until the start of next season in September 2021. So the ball seems to be in True’s court at the moment. Did the FA Thailand really expect True to hand over a full seasons money to only be allowed to televise half a seasons worth of games?

So what the outcome will be, now one knows at the moment. If the FA Thailand go ahead with their planned schedule to finish in May without an agreement with True it will mean no money from True and the games might not be televised as well. That would be a disaster for Thai football and the clubs who are already struggling financially. Will True accept the latest offer from the FA Thailand and agree to broadcast games until May or will the FA Thailand back down and make another reschedule with the league finishing in 2020.

All this could have been avoided with clear communication between all parties. It is an indication of the lack of organisation and poor management that must be impacted football in Thailand in other areas as well. It is widely considered that Thai football is in decline at the moment both on and off the pitch. While this is normal for nations to go through ups and downs, do the people charged with running Thai football have the capacity to drive the game back to and beyond where it was a few years ago? Time will tell!

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