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The Sisaket Case and its implications

Thai League 1
Sisaket FC Esan United A few weeks ago the verdict over the owner dispute between Sisaket FC and Esan United was announced. The decisions by the league as a result of the judgment does have an affect on the current season and maybe the future of the Thai Premier League in some ways.

On 20 August the Supreme Administrative Court of Ubon Ratchathani ruled on the owner dispute between Sisaket FC and Esan United - in favour of Sisaket. With it the court quashed an earlier verdict of the administrative court. The row which is smoldering since 2012 between the two Shareholder groups finally has found an end. At least temporarily. It is believed that the group around Esan United obtained its move to Ubon Ratchathani by devious means with forged documents presented to the league to justify a change.

At the time of the judgment the season has been 23 matchdays old and now Sisaket would have had to make up nearly for one complete season. Not enough, the club had only three registered players with the league. Now it was on to the leagues person responsible to make a decision, on how to handle the "Sisaket case".

All together three different models were suggested and at the end it was decided not to send the club in compulsive relegation as initially planned. Somehow understandably, because Sisaket FC is the last one to blame in the whole dilemma. With three promoted and two relegated teams, next years season would have had to be made of 19 clubs. Not exactly a round number. So the TPL decided to stock up its premium product to 20. But maybe she just used the opportunity to do the job properly. Because there are reports that immediately suggest it has been the leagues intention anyway to increase the TPL. Somehow, somewhen.

However, Sisaket's three matches against Chainat, Muang Thong and Songkhla are null and void. So all these teams get their hard earned points deducted, which they got from the ties against the side from Isan. Furthermore, there will be only one relegated team from the TPL by the end of the season. With Sisaket subtracted out, only the seventeenth will be relegated. At the same time promotion quota remains with three  teams from Thai Division One. But the number of relegated teams is reduced here as well. From four to two. No changes are made to promotion places from the Regional League. So in consequence the Thai Premier League will consist of 20 teams from next season onward and it is not planned to reduce the number the following seasons.

Whether it  is a fair solution? Hard to say. It is also difficult to find a precedence in other countries and it is laborious to speculate on it how they would have decided in such a case. But increasing the league could create some problems in the coming years.

Sure - everybody want to have his portion of the honey pot TPL. Not least after the new TV contract with Truevisions, which should guarantee about 20 million Baht per year for every club from 2014 for the next three years. Although the goodly sum most likely will decrease with the raised number in teams. Albeit it is to fear that quality and excitement of the league might sinks even more. Though the league is still considerably booming - for the first time an average attendance of more than 5,000 seems achievable - also Merchandising figures may speak volumes. But since this year, if not at all with last year, the leagues quality dropped.

The curve of tension is decreasing after well half of a season. In a championship which is increasingly decided between two sides: Buriram United and Muang Thong. Although financially strong clubs like Bangkok Glass, Chonburi and also BEC Tero may search the guilt with themselves why they at least sportily, have taken a back seat in recent years. Two clubs more might be neither good for the quality nor the tension. In addition there comes the planned reduction quota of foreign players, which currently is seven per team.

Taken the league really would introduce plans to start the season in January/February and run it until end of October, as it seems to be her aim, the free space and advantage of a stretched schedule would be nearly used up with a 20-team league. FA Cup, League Cup, AFC Champions League and/or AFC Cup besides the championship, provide not least for the fact players will run out of strength in the second half of the season. Just add the King's cup, the SEA-Games, the AFF Suzuki Cup, international duty and various youth tournaments to it. Not to talk about enough vacation or day's off for the players after a long season - which are almost not exist.

The league maintains a cooperation with the J-League and at club level there are many cooperations with Japanese and South Korean clubs. A look at these both top leagues of Asia, plus the Australian A-League, should be enough. To recognise that small steps in form of small leagues and a steady, not rushed development, make sense.

Money rules the world, but money is not everything and a long breath could pay off twice at the end for parties involved. Even in the world of modern football.
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