Thursday, 22 October 2009

Reflections on Thai football 2009 - part 3 - the challenges for Muangthong United

Parts three of three. Part one is here. Part two is here.

Next season will see more teams challenging for the title. Thai Port have already announced they will invest fifty million baht into the club. Bangkok Glass will no doubt be looking to invest in a title challenge, other newcomers such as Bangkok United will learn from their mistakes last season and - perhaps most crucially -  the Chonburi fans, players and management will be looking for revenge. Indeed, I've sensed the seeds of a rivalry with the Sharks. I sincerely hope it is always settled by the quality of football.

The Thunderdome Stadium and its pitch have so far held up well to the unprecedented pressure in terms of attendances and human traffic that have arrived, but I do hope the club use the close season wisely to look for improvements. The sound system clearly needs work and the pitch looked very worrying at the final match of the season. However the most important thing for me is that the club make plans for crowd disbursement at the of the games. The East Stand is especially worrying at full time because hundreds of impatient motorcyclists compete with hundreds of equally impatient pedestrian fans for road space in a poorly lit area with unfinished construction going on nearby. If nothing is done about this, I'm worried that someone will get seriously hurt. I'd like to see all construction work finished, lights erected in the area and motorcyclists diverted to one of the many car-parks nearby. The five minute walk will be good for them.

I have faith that the club can tackle all these issues. So far, the management have identified and responded to issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. Communications with the fans seems frequent, receptive and caring. Robert Procurer seems like a focused and confident manager with a clear idea of what he wants on and off the pitch. Financial challenges from other clubs should not be a match for MTU, either. For example, I understand that ongoing negotiations for sponsorship of  just one end of the Thunderdome stadium will match Thai Port's overall total of fifty million baht investment into their club.

Rajpracha also have plans. Rumours at another stadium move have been denied and the club plan to fence off the Nonthaburi  ground to allow them to charge an entrance fee next season. More replica shirts will be sold and with an efficient management team in place, hopefully the club will be able to build on its well respected name to attract more fans and more success. I still want to be able to attend a TPL match between Muangthong and Rajpracha.

With so much to think about for fans and clubs alike, it's sure to be another amazing season next year. Perhaps the only thing we can be sure of is that there will be a whole lot of talking points to deal with. I'm sure the the English speaking fans will do their best to cover them.

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