Football: Thai FA to meet clubs over season's abrupt end following Thai king's death

Thailand football players Kroekrit Thaweekarn (left) and Theerathon Bunmathan (right) during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Thailand and Japan in Bangkok on Sept 6, 2016.
Thailand football players Kroekrit Thaweekarn (left) and Theerathon Bunmathan (right) during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Thailand and Japan in Bangkok on Sept 6, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK • The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) will meet clubs to explain its decision to scrap the season with three matches to go following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The monarch died on Thursday aged 88, sparking anguish among an adoring public and a prolonged official mourning period that will see all forms of entertainment - including sports events - "toned down" as a mark of respect.

The FAT swiftly cancelled the remainder of the season and said league rankings on Oct 14 would determine the champions and relegation candidates.

Cup finals will be decided by a draw.

But that sparked complaints from relegated clubs - including Thai Premier League outfits Chainat Hornbill FC and Army United - with a fighting chance of league survival with three rounds to go.

They were handed a lifeline when the FAT said it would meet them following the complaints.

"The FAT invites football clubs' chairmen, representatives and sponsors to hear the explanation," over the decision on Oct 17 (today), the body said in statement on its Facebook page.

Chainat and Army United, who include Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny among their ranks, have complained about their "unfair relegation with three matches and nine points to play for," according to leading daily newspaper Siam Sport.

Both were on 30 points last Friday, with five other clubs mathematically able to slip into the drop zone.

Muangthong United were handed the Thai Premier League title, although they were just five points ahead of second-placed Bangkok United.

An international friendly involving the national team and Iran next month has been cancelled. Thailand also wants to shift a Nov 15 home World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos to either Australia or a neutral venue such as Singapore.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Thai FA to meet clubs over season's abrupt end'. Print Edition | Subscribe