Connect with us

Opinion

Observations on the demise of the Phuket Football Club

Tim Newton

Published

 on 

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.

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented over 10,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 650 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. As founder of The Thaiger, Tim now acts as the Content Manager and head-writer, whilst supervising the growth of the YouTube channel. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Thailand7 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Phuket resort land encroachment case; OnlyFans arrest calls for reform| Sep 27

Thailand8 hours ago

Monday Covid Update: 10,288 new cases; provincial totals

Guides8 hours ago

Local resturants you can’t miss when travelling to Ayutthaya

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Thailand reduces quarantine to 7 days for fully vaccinated arrivals from October

World9 hours ago

Australian official suggests borders may re-open by Christmas

Thailand9 hours ago

Gilligan’s Island, Farangs, Grammar and Onlyfans | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 26

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Guides10 hours ago

Travel hacks for a stress-free holiday in Thailand

Thailand10 hours ago

Consumer complaints hotline targets rip-off shopkeepers

Thailand10 hours ago

Phuket Car rental business says gang rented cars and then sold them off

Guides10 hours ago

A guide to Doi Inthanon National Park

Bangkok10 hours ago

Curfew shortened, Bangkok spas, gyms, cinemas can re-open from October

Tourism11 hours ago

TAT pushes for Indonesia, Malaysia to be added to approved list for Phuket sandbox

World11 hours ago

Powerful earthquake strikes near the Phillippines main island

Guides11 hours ago

Top business and investment opportunities in Thailand

Thailand12 hours ago

OnlyFans arrest sparks calls for reform of prostitution and pornography laws

Thailand2 weeks ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending