Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Thai Politicised League Preview

Thai season kicks off this weekend. Champions Buriram PEA are no Buriram United, an imaginative name change and they will be hoping to continue the form of last season when they surprised absolutely no one by winning the TPL, the FA Cup and the League Cup. They probably never lost a toss either.

Muang Thong United boast a new coach, a new sponsor, a slight name change and a new sponsor for their stadium. They’ve also been splashing the cash but will the club give the new coach time to even buy a second tube of toothpaste?

The guts have been torn out of Thai Port to such an extent that Scotsman Steven Robb is now among their longest serving players. He arrived last year and I have still to see him play; both games I went to he was injured eh?! Moise and Ulrich have also left the club and with ownership questions still circulating it remains to be seen whether they can find any stability on the field.

Stability ain’t an issue at Chonburi but with all the money being funneled towards clubs like Muang Thiong and Buriram United the side from the eastern seaboard seemed set fair to be the Arsenal of Thailand; a club everyone admires but always coming up short when it matters.

Coming up from Division One are BBCU who used to be known as Chula United last time they were in the TPL. Rather optimistically they will be using the Rajamangala Stadium for their home games. It’s like Barnet using the Emirates in North London.

Buriram won Division One at a canter and they have merged with Buriram PEA to allow non Buriram teams to win the odd trophy hence the Buriram United monicker.

The other promoted team are Chainat from somewhere north of Bangkok.

This being Thailand there is another new team in the TPL despite only three up, three down. With the PEA franchise no longer being used by Buriram and only one Burirma in the top flight by some mental arithmetic and no doubt political interference there is a new team in the top flight. And it ain’t the team that finished 4th ‘cos that would be logical but logic don’t apply in the land of la la and puu yai.

Wuanchon United, it has to be United dunnit, are some kind of spawn from OEA and Songkla and by rights have no place in any football league but the Thai owner fancied it so there you have it. Don’t whine about it, don’t question it. Just accept it. Or avoid it.

Interesting season lies ahead for the Thais. The political interference is getting more and more obvious and more and more embarrassing but it is unlikely the paper tiger that is FIFA will do anything. The political intereference comes at a local level where the concept of a local godfather still carries some swing amd no one seems to have the balls to stand up to them ‘cos they know one day they will need them; and their votes.

Like the Indonesians, the Thais are excellent at finding and exploiting loopholes. A few people are making a shit load of money so on one is really complaing, even if they could.

Oh, and a Casual hot tip? Suphanburi to win Division One!

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