Trouble in paradise over Phuket FC supposed bankruptcy

Published:  14 Jun at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, UK, Thailand, England
Thai smiles in the expat and tourism haven of Thailand’s Phuket resort island were turned to scowls recently by the news that the local football club had been declared bankrupt.

Given that journalistic integrity in Thailand isn’t quite what it is in the more respectable Western media outlets, it’s no surprise that the Phuket Footie Club’s president Ma-Ann Samran hit the roof when he read the damning report earlier this month. Accusations included staff and players being owed several months’ salary as well as power cut-offs due to unpaid electric bills.

Mr Samran, still spitting blood, contacted local English language expat rag the Phuket Gazette, publishers of the original story, telling the reporter how devastated he was by the accusations and adding that the club’s financial hiccups were merely an internal issue. The problems, according to Samran, began when he took over as manager after a mass resignation of officials due to the club's being demoted demoting from Thailand’s Division 1 to Division 2.

According to Samran, the report of the club’s bankruptcy is patently false, although he admitted there are pressing financial matters to be attended to. Monthly running costs, he said, amount to 1.5 million baht (some £30,000), with each home game costing around 800,000 baht (£16,000) to stage and away games costing 100,000 baht (£20,000). Seems a lot of cash when relegation was the result.

Furthermore, he added, he had been relying on sponsorship to prop up the club’s finances, but every single company he approached turned him down. Souvenirs and ticket sales, he said, aren’t anywhere near enough to keep the doors open, even although the report had it wrong and staff and players are only owed one month’s salary.

A promised donation of 2.5 million baht from Thailand’s Football Association had turned out to be just 300,000 baht, with waiting for the rest seemingly a waste of time. As regards the local electricity office’s cutting of the power lines, this, according to Samran, was simply a misunderstanding. He’s wisely decided not to sue the newspaper, maybe because the club can’t quite afford a decent lawyer right now.

Perhaps it’s time for a heartfelt appeal to Phuket’s considerable number of expat residents as regards a helping handout for the cash-strapped players and the club. Better yet, if Samran can find a footie-mad expat ex-accountant to help him keep the books relatively straight, further relegation or even closure might just be averted.
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