Thai league proposes 50% pay cut for players, officials
Cost-reducing measures made to ensure clubs' survival amid coronavirus crisis
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit another regional football competition, with the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) yesterday recommending a 50 per cent pay cut for players in the top two tiers of the Thai league.
The Thai season has been suspended since last month, when the country went into a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
TV rights and sponsorship revenue, which make up about 80 per cent of the league's income, has since dipped sharply. With no signs of the situation easing soon, the authorities have implemented tough measures to ensure the clubs' survival.
FAT president Somyot Poompanmoung said in a Facebook post that they have suggested to the clubs to negotiate remuneration with the players, so that the clubs can avoid going into a financial meltdown.
He said: "It is the consensus of every club to negotiate the wages of staff, both players and coaches, at 50 per cent, or half to be the same standard for the whole league."
The news comes as a blow to Singapore players plying their trade in the kingdom.
When contacted, veteran defender Baihakki Khaizan, who plays for top-tier side PT Prachuap, said he will comment only after he has discussed with his club officials.
Other Singaporeans affected include BG Pathum United defender Irfan Fandi, Suphanburi midfielder Zulfahmi Arifin, and Trat FC duo Afiq Yunos and Izwan Mahbud.
Clubs of both leagues were told to negotiate with their players, in accordance with Fifa's guidelines which were drawn up earlier this month.
In that document, the world governing body urged any cuts to be "proportionate" and unilateral decisions to change contracts "will only be recognised when they are otherwise deemed reasonable".
Players at European giants Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have already agreed to take temporary pay cuts ranging from 20 to 70 per cent, while English Premier League clubs are still at the negotiation table.
Closer to home, pay cuts have already been implemented in the Malaysian league, with Lions skipper Hariss Harun's Johor Darul Ta'zim having imposed a 33 per cent reduction.
Singapore Premier League clubs were also reportedly mulling over wage cuts.
Also discussed by the Thai football authorities at yesterday's meeting at the Ministry of Tourism and Sports was the resumption of the Thai season, which has been suspended since March 4.
The authorities have proposed that T1, the top-flight league in Thailand which usually runs from February to October, resume the fifth round of matches in September and conclude the season in May 2021.
The same applies for T2.
The new calendar will also help avoid the monsoon season, which typically occurs from July to September.
Yesterday's meeting, dictated by social distancing measures, involved only T1 and T2 clubs. The fate of T3 and T4 will be discussed on another date.