It’s all about the money, money, money

By
Updated: January 21, 2017
Money Thai football

When a new foreign footballer comes to Thailand, you can expect praise for the country’s friendly people, beautiful beaches and spicy food.

The football will also get a mention, usually in vague terms of it being an “exciting” opportunity in a “developing” league.

But let’s not kid ourselves. The one and only reason Thailand attracts a reasonable standard of foreign footballer is the dirty dollar. Money, of course, drives the Thai League.

Foreign players are prepared to put up with the terrible pitches, woeful refereeing and dubious professionalism of their Thai teammates, knowing they’ll end up with a fat pay cheque at the end of the month (although on occasion, the promised cheque does not arrive, as some Nakhon Ratchasima players apparently experienced last season).

And when you take a closer look at the numbers, it’s not hard to see why they come.

The very best foreign players in the Thai League – such as Diogo (pictured below) at Buriram United – can earn a more than handsome $US750,000 (26.4 million baht)-net a year, which does not even include win bonuses.

Diogo Buriram United

Foreigners who play at a lesser Thai League club can expect around $10-30,000-net a month.

AFC Champions League winner Mark Bridge (who ThaiGoals interviewed in 2016) found the wages on offer attractive enough to leave a good level of football in Australia to move to big-spending Chiang Rai United. Ex-English Premier League star Leroy Lita, who admittedly has seen better days, is the latest big name to come to Thailand, joining Sisaket.

Even the very best domestic players, such as Muangthong United’s Thailand striker Teerasil Dangda, earn up to 1 million baht a month ($28,000). Other top Thai players might earn 300,000 baht a month ($8,400). The disparity at the bottom becomes clear when you realise clubs’ young players earn a paltry 10,000 baht a month.

The big bucks may seem like peanuts compared to Asia’s top leagues, where the likes of Brazilian star Oscar will earn $431,000 a week in China. Even in Japan’s J League, stars such as Yasuhito Endo earn $1.4 million over the year, trumping wages in Thailand. But these are a higher calibre of player in their prime.

Thailand is a country where the cost of living is still reasonably cheap. Clubs will often also throw in accommodation, a car, even a nanny for the kids. Players can set themselves and their families up for years to come.

And often we are talking about players who may only have reasonably modest careers in Europe or South America, often in the lower leagues. Muangthong United’s Cleiton Silva is just one example of the many Brazilians who have come to Thailand and made a very decent living.

There’s nothing wrong with clubs splashing the cash, you may argue. Other leagues around the world were built on money. China is currently hoovering up world class talent by offering obscene salaries. It’s only following in the footsteps of the English Premier League a few decades ago.

But the domestic football culture here is still weak. Your average Thai football fan can still talk in disparaging terms about their own league, preferring to follow Liverpool or Manchester United. Ticket sales and merchandising generally offer little revenue, certainly not enough to sustain those salaries. It’s not clear how much of the TV money genuinely filters down. The big money comes from sponsorship, such as Muangthong’s massive five-year deal with SCG.

Should the Thai economy struggle, and that money dry up, you won’t see the good-pedigree foreigners for dust. And all you’d be left with is substandard foreign players and domestic talent that is still spread very thin. The wider infrastructure of Thai football remains frustratingly poor, and governance of the game a running joke.

The domestic game is still built on a wing and a prayer – and a hope that the good times never end. Although, they always do in the end.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thai Goals, ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One

Thai Goals

Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures

Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup

ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup, AFC Champions League, AFC
Thai Goals, Thailand National Team, Thai Grounds, Thai Division One, Thai Regional League, Thai FA Cup, Thai League Cup< ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures ThaiGoals, Thailand Soccer, Thai Football, Premier League of Thailand, Thai Fixtures
Web Statistics