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Observations on the demise of the Phuket Football Club

Tim Newton

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Tim Newton, camera-in-hand, filming commentary from Steve Johnston at Surakul Stadium, circa 2013.

In 2013 and 2014 I was attending most of the Phuket FC matches held at Surukul Stadium as part of my work, reporting stuff for my employer at the time. I had no particular interest in soccer but it was local, it was something our company sponsored and I was happy to get paid to watch people running around a patch of grass for a few hours each Sunday evening. My opinions are not coloured by passion for the game, inside knowledge of the inner-workings of the Phuket FC or any desire to do more than wish them all well now that the party’s over.

The noise, fawning and pomp rolled out each week for the players and club owners/officials was over and beyond what the public attendance demanded. Of course there was enthusiasm, hope and some (occasional) good PR behind the scenes. Perhaps all the effort and sweat would result in wins and upgrading to the ‘big boys’ game in the national league.

There were a few regular cliques – the ‘locals’ on the opposite side to the grandstand were there for the long haul. They seemed determined to turn up each week through rain, hail and shine.

On the grandstand side most of the farangs and families sat – the ones who were living out their enthusiasm for Premier League tribalism – perhaps a hundred or so each game. There was also a group that bussed up from Rawai each game but they were MUCH more interested in the ‘social’ aspects of the game; did a lot of drinking and not a lot of barracking. Then there was the drum crew; loud, enthusiastic and committed to play their instruments, usually at the wrong times. Sadly, not many of them have a future in rhythmic musical instruments. But they were LOUD.

And, atop the stands, was the ‘restricted area’ where the owners, VIPs and ‘special people’ liked to be wined and dined, occasionally casting a quick glimpse at the assembled throng beneath them.

It was all quite surreal and, frankly, not as well attended as everyone would have hoped.

If the aim was to come up with a winning football team to take on the country’s best, the eight year project failed. If the idea was to hustle up a following for the local team, the project failed as well. If the main objective was to have a jolly good time in the top rows of the stands and tell friends that you owned the local football club, then the masterplan probably worked well.

But, was it worth 83 million baht? That’s the amount left owing according to the outgoing Phuket FC President as they addressed a media pack yesterday at Surukul Stadium. Following some player dismissals in 2012, three players sued the Club and the situation appears not to be have been properly addressed by the former administration. The current administration was quick to blame others for the problems that now engulfed the football club. I’ve heard quite a few accounts of the ‘real story’ in the past 24 hours – everyone is jumping on the band-wagon now the Club’s finished.

Sport, even local sort, even provincial sport, is as much a business these days as it is a game. Trying to win Thailand’s national football league is big business and requires more than commitment and good ball skills. It requires deep pockets and business acumen. Holding a few sausage sizzles and selling club jumpers simply doesn’t cut it anymore and Phuket FC failed, from very early on, in just about every department.

Bottom line, they just couldn’t excite the locals to line up behind their team.

I remember on the following Monday morning posting our video clips of goals from the night before and getting 100… 200 clicks. At the same time another motorbike accident would attract 2,000… 3,000 clicks. The Club just didn’t have the traction to get the following it required. The company I was working for certainly tried very hard, for three years, to help drag crowds along to the games – all as a sponsorship to support the Club. Somehow the various owners battled on for eight years.

I’m sad to see the Club being wound up and the outgoing administration being forced to lay the debt and the deep-rooted problems on the table. It’s not a pretty picture.

To those people sitting in the stands opposite the grandstand, you were the real heroes. There you were every week. You are the real losers in this sad tale – you deserved better.

 

Finally, there was an off-camera moment when I interviewed a past senior official of the Phuket FC. I asked him what was his real motivation. He said he didn’t really enjoy the game but it was great promotion for his ‘business’. Nuff said.

 

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

Thailand

‘Safe zone’ in Thailand for refugees fleeing Myanmar violence

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Karen Information Centre

Due to the ongoing violence between the Myanmar military and ethnic troops, the Thai military has set up a “safe zone” for thousands of refugees in Mae Hong Son near the Salween River, the natural border between Thailand and Myanmar.

The prominent armed wing of the Karen National Union has openly supported the anti-coup movement in Myanmar, leading to clashes with the military junta. Recently, the Karen National Liberation Army reported took over a military outpost near the Thai border. Those just across the Salween River in Thailand said they could hear the gunshots and explosions.

Defence Ministry spokesperson Kongcheep Tantravanich says shelter and humanitarian assistance are being provided for around 2,200 people who have fled Myanmar.

Kongcheep says the “safe zone” is under tight security and only those authorised can enter. There are strict health and disease control measures are in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

His statement comes after the local civil rights group People of Salween River Basin Network called on the Thai government not to push refugees back, claiming that Thai soldiers had been ordered to tell the refugees to return to their home country due to a potential negative impact with border trade.

They say the Myanmar military has been carrying out airstrikes on Karen army bases and many Karen villagers fear for their safety.

Mae Hong Son governor, Sitthichai Jindaluang, also told a United Nations representative last week that refugees have been given shelter and assistance.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ศูนย์ข้อมูล COVID-19

1,630 new Covid-19 cases and 22 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. There are now 29,376 active Covid-19 cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 85,005 Covid-19 cases and 421 Covid-related deaths.

Out of the 22 deaths, most of the patients had chronic illnesses. Many contracted the virus from family members or close friends.

Most of the new cases were detected in Bangkok, particularly in districts with crowded communities and markets. While cases in Bangkok continue to be high, CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says the number of new cases in most other provinces in Thailand is decreasing.

Health officials are rolling out proactive case finding campaigns in several high-risk communities, testing 9,000 to 10,000 per day, Nopakun says, adding that officials are working to provide the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic must stay at an official field hospital for 14 days and then self-isolate at home for another 14 days.

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger Covid UPDATE: 1,630 new cases and 22 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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Thailand

Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ Royal Thai Embassy Vientiane

With Laos, just north of Thailand, under lockdown measures to control a spike of Covid-19 infections, the Royal Thai Embassy to Laos helping the country combat the outbreak and has donated cash and materials valued altogether at more than 16 million baht.

While cases have remained low in Laos since the start of the pandemic last year with active cases typically under 10, there was a spike in cases in mid-April and active cases are now at 1,302. The country reported its first coronavirus-related death yesterday.

Thailand donates cash, equipment to Laos to help combat Covid-19 outbreak | News by Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Laos as of 9 May 2021, according to Worldometers.

Donations from Thailand help supply mobile biosafety labs to conduct swab Covid-19 testing and beds for Covid-19 patients as well as protective equipment such including 50,000 medical masks and more than 2,000 Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, outfits.

An order of supplies valued at 8.5 million baht is set to be delivered by the end of the month. That order will have 2,000 more PPE outfits, Covid-19 test equipment, DNA/RNA extraction kits, and 2,500 test kits. Other equipment provided by Thailand include a defibrillator, patient monitoring machine, infrared thermometers, oxygen regulators, and pulse oximeters.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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