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A look at the 2016 Regional League divisions

Regional League Regional League feeling

Regional League feeling
image: thai-fussball.com

The new season of the Regional League begins in a few weeks. Since last weeks draw it is known how each of the six groups look like.

The most exciting thing before each season in Thai football is not about what Thai Premier League club signs which foreign player, what player is moving somewhere or where will be a new coach unveiled in the top League. It is rather about how the six divisions of the Regional League will look like. Going hand in hand so, which club has been kicked out, which one is newly added, who has been taken over or got renamed.

Since last week we are wiser regarding the upcoming season which will kick off on 7 February. Divided in six groups the record-breaking number of 90 teams fight for 12 spots in the play-offs. This was announced before the draw 2016, which this time took place in Chachaengsao.

Below we break down each of the zones and what have changed in each of them.

North

There are no notable changes in the North which will consists of 15 teams in 2016, compared to 14 last season. This because relegated sides Chiang Mai FC and Phichit FC where put in the North division, while only Lampang got promoted to Division 1. As well as in 2015, Uthai Thani FC is not going to have a team in 2016, after finishing the 2014 season next to last.

North East

Here, too, there are no major changes. Khon Kaen United and Ubon UMT went up while Yasothon returns after a two years break from the Regional League. And there are 17 teams this year and not 18 like in 2015.

Central East

After an easy start, now things get a bit complicated. Rayong FC is the side which got promoted to Division 1 out of Central East and relegated side Trat FC takes the place instead of Rayong FC in the East. JW Police moved from the Central West group to the East and is now called Internazionale Pattaya. JW have withdrawn from the competition and sold its licence to the newly formed Inter Pattaya.

The man behind the club in the well known tourist centre is Payu Nerngchamnong who in early 2015 took over Pattaya United. Under his responsibility and with his money, he brought a rotten Nong Prue Stadium back to shine and lead United back to Thailand's top-flight.
End of 2015 Payu withdrew as President of Pattaya United and have founded Inter after he could not agree with Chonburi FC about the ownership rights.

Pattaya City is an another new Club in the East. And as surprise to many, another club in the seaside town. Pattaya City has taken over the license from Tawee Wattana, a club who once was known as Sriracha FC before he was taken over and relocated, and belonged to Chonburi FC (or the Chonburi FA depending on the definition), as well as Pattaya United did. Latter then again. The president of City is the Mayor of Pattaya, Ittipol Khunplome. In the past, Ittipol Khunplome was already president of Pattaya United and his brother is none other than the Chonburi FC boss Wittaya Khunpluem.

Thus, with City, Inter and United, which is for sale, the city of Pattaya currently has three clubs in Thailand's professional football. Besides Bangkok and Rayong, Pattaya is the third town in Thailand which is home to more than two clubs.

With the permission of Saraburi, Kheng Khoi TRU, which was promoted from the Khǒr Royal Cup to the Regional League 2015, is now known as Saraburi TRU FC. Maybe not that bad for fans in the province if TPL side Saraburi FC should be sold, or must cease his activities for financial reasons.

Royal Thai Fleet is not going to be part of the Regional League for the first time since got promoted out of the Khǒr Royal Cup in 2010. The club decided to withdraw and fall back to the amateur cup competitions.

Pluak Daeng Rayong United are the new boys in the division this year as they moved here from the Bangkok division. Also new, at least under this name is Benjamarachutit Chanthaburi. The Benjamarachutit School agreed on a contract with TG Rayong, which it allows the school to play under the license of TG for the next two years. TG Rayong finished bottom in 2014 and was banned for one year.

Central-West

TTM FC and Ayutthaya FC are two more relegated sides from Thailand's second tier and they have been placed into the Central West. In addition the two teams who were promoted from the Khǒr Royal Cup will ply their trade here. These are Auytthaya United (actually Ayutthaya Municipality, but as usual it seems obvious that you need to have a "fancy" name if you are playing pro football in Thailand) and IPE Samut Sakhon. IPE stands for Institute of Physical Education, and in the past, the team from Samut Sakhon participated in the Thai FA Cup.

Globlex FC has not yet disappeared completely, but agreed to send a team in co-operation with the Bangkok Thonburi University, under the name of BTU United. The stadium which they are plan to use is the the stadium of the University, which was used by Samut Songkhram FC during the first half of last years season. Petchaburi FC has decided to send no team for the 2016 season.

Bangkok

The only really new team of all six divisions, so neither a side who have acquired a license, got promoted or relegated, is Look Phor Khun United. So how they could have entered the league? Most likely they could agree on a starting place over a tea at a meeting with some Regional League officials. It wouldn't be for the first time.

The Bangkok Christian College finished obviously his collaboration with BEC Tero as well as RBAC did with Ratchaburi FC and both are again independent and without players of the respective partners.

Two returnees to the league are: the Central Lions FC and Look E-San. The last time the Central Lions have played in the Regional League was in 2012. Five years before the club played in the Thai Division One but couldn't qualify for the new format and was relegated to the then Division 2. However, Central will get re-named to Air Force Robinson and will become a kind of feeder team of Division One side Air Force. The Central Retail Corporation is the major sponsor of Air Force and Robinson Department Store is part of the company. Hence this explains the rename of the Central Lions.

South

Satun United is the side which got promoted out of the South Zone. So actually. As the winner of Group A of the promotion round the club earned the right to play in the Division 1 this year. But after fans had beat up a referee after a game in the play-offs, Satun where handed a ban for three years of all competitions by the FA.

Hat Yai returns after an one year break and the Phuket FC returns to the South Zone after five years in Thailand's second tier.

Not allowed - heard


Not admitted to the 2016 season of the Regional League have been Phattalung FC, Paknampho NSRU (who has served his one-year suspension of the FA) Kanchanaburi and Samut Prakarn United.

Teams who have not make noise or haven't handed in any paper that they may would like to be part of the new season are: Tak FC and Laem Chabang. Not really a pity as, Laem Chabang for 2013 secured himself only a place in the league as one could agree over a cup of tea to enter the competition.

While it as a pity nothing was to be heard of four time champions Raj-Vithi. So Raj-Pracha remains the ultimate Club of Regional League, in terms of silverware, with four Thai championships and Thai FA two Cup wins to his name.

If you want to know and read more on the amateur competitions in Thai football, you can read our article: The ABC of Thai Football - The Amateurs.
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