Starting with the upcoming campaign, only five foreign players will be allowed to register with each club in the league. This is a reduction from the seven players allowed last season. This development has emerged in order for the league to comply with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rules according to TPL chairman Dr Vichit Yamboomruang.
Pattaya United’s Cameroon import Paul Ekollo (32) is seen in action in a Thai Premier League fixture against Army United last season.
Of the five player quota, only three non-Asian and one other (non Thai) Asian will be allowed on the pitch at the same time.
The new rule change is likely to have serious implications for a number of clubs in the Thai Premier League who have adopted a policy of recruiting players from abroad en masse over the last few seasons. Even with the seven foreign player allowance of last season, some clubs were forced to loan players out to lower league outfits.
The Thai Premier League says the rule changes will prevent the influx of foreign players having a negative impact on the Thai national team and will also force clubs to invest more heavily in their local youth team set-ups.
The new Thai Premier Premier League season is due to start on Saturday, March 17. Pattaya United will kick off their campaign on that day with a home match against Samut Songkram FC at the Nongprue Stadium, while Chonburi FC will play host to Thai Port FC.
Newly promoted teams to appear in the top flight this coming season are BB-CU FC, Chainat and Buriram FC, the latter one with a new name change to Wuachaon United, the Fighting Bulls. Buriram FC sold their license at the end of last season to the president of Songkhla FC as he tried to shortcut the league, but the TPL put a stop to it and with Wuanchaon United and Songkhla he will have to lead two clubs. Wuanchaon will play at least their opening fixtures in Buriram but an eventual move to southern Thailand seems inevitable.
Other changes this season will likely see Sisaket FC become Isaan United and a move for the club to Ubon Ratchathani looks to be on the cards after the town’s new third division club, Sisaket United, denied them use of the provincial stadium. It seems local politics and football walk hand-in-hand here once again.
The Pattaya Mail will be following the fortunes of all our local teams once the new season gets underway.
(Sources: goal.com and thai-fussball.com)