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Observations on the demise of the Phuket Football Club

Tim Newton

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Observations on the demise of the Phuket Football Club | The Thaiger
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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.

Chon Buri

Helmet credited for saving young student’s life after being ran over by a truck

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Helmet credited for saving young student’s life after being ran over by a truck | The Thaiger

A helmet has been credited by rescue workers as saving a young student motorbiker’s life after being ran over by a truck following a collision with another vehicle. The accident, which happened in the Panat Nikhom District, of Thailand’s eastern Chon Buri province, happened after a vehicle stopped suddenly, causing the student to crash into it. The student reportedly fell off the motorbike when a passing truck ran him over.

Rescue workers say when they arrived at the scene, they found a blue motorbike with a small amount of damage along with the 16 year old student, bearing only minor injuries to his skull. The student, whose name has reportedly been withheld due to his age, was taken to a local hospital to be examined. Panat Nikhom Police say they are searching for the 2 vehicle drivers involved in the accident as they both fled after the crash.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thailand

Majority in survey say now is the time to share ideas to solve conflicts

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Majority in survey say now is the time to share ideas to solve conflicts | The Thaiger

A majority of those surveyed in a recent Suan Dusit Rajabhat University poll say now is the time to work together to solve the conflicts that are plaguing the country. The poll, known as the Suan Dusit Poll, was conducted online from September 23-25, asked for opinions on the long-standing conflicts in Thailand.

1,263 online netizens responded with a large majority-almost 92% saying now is the time for all who are concerned to come together to brainstorm ideas on how to resolve the conflicts. The rest of the respondents, around 8%, said other things. Each respondent was given more than one allowed answer when asked for suggestions of how to fix the issues with almost 89% saying the government should be open to all opinions. Almost 88% said there should not be any violence, 82% said no double-standards, 74% said forums should be held nationwide to allow opinions, and 69% wanted the parties involved in the conflicts to take a step backward.

However, the question of who should lead the country in resolving these issues was split closely between pollsters wanting core members and representatives of different groups, the prime minister, and the people. Only around 13% pointed towards the government sector as taking the lead and lastly, around 9% pointing to the students and youth.

A majority of respondents, about 75%, agree that the brainstorming would be successful with almost 25% saying it would be unlikely to be successful. Such a poll comes after major anti-government student protests at Bangkok’s Thammasat University have rocked the nation, with some saying, for the first time, the rallies have thwarted the Lese Majeste laws in place that have historically put a muzzle on free speech and criticisms of the monarchy and King. Such protests have led to the arrestsof those leading the movement especially after a plaque was placedat the Grand Palace declaring that “Thailand belongs to the people.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Thailand

Special Tourist Visa to visit Thailand approved Monday

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Special Tourist Visa to visit Thailand approved Monday | The Thaiger

The much-debated Special Tourist Visa is set to be approved tomorrow during a meeting chaired by PM Prayut with the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The approval comes as government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul says the country expects around 1,200 tourists per month to come in on the new category of visa after the country reopens, but the visa is not without restrictions.

Each traveller has to take a Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to departing on a charter or private flight to Thailand, which must gain approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or CCSA before flying to Thailand. The charter flights have their own list of restrictions and will not be allowed to sell anything on board, and have been told to adhere to the strict guidelines from the CCSA

Tourists will also have to sign a letter agreeing to the government’s Covid measures which include a mandatory 14 day quarnntine in an approved accommodation and carry proof of Covid health insurance covering $US 100,000 or 3 million baht. After arriving, the travellers must submit to another Covid test and download an app to monitor their health.

So far, Phuket airport has reportedly finished installing Covid labsto prepare for the incoming tourists, with more airports expected to follow. In one year, Traisuree says the number of travellers arriving on the special visa is expected to reach 14,400 people, generating about 12.4 billion baht in revenue.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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