Apirat to Dissolve Army’s Football Club, Source Says

Gen. Apirat Kongsompong during an inspection of Army United Football Club on Jan. 10, 2019. Photo: Army Utd Fanclub / Facebook
Gen. Apirat Kongsompong during an inspection of Army United Football Club on Jan. 10, 2019. Photo: Army Utd Fanclub / Facebook

BANGKOK — Army commander Apirat Kongsompong on Friday suspended the army’s football team due to its chronically poor performance and financial losses, a source in the armed forces said.

The source said Gen. Apirat also planned to dissolve Army United thanks to the team’s overdue management costs of 40 to 50 million baht a month, though a vice chairman of the club said no final decision has been taken at the moment.

“Gen. Apirat is concerned about the sponsorship from the private sector,” Gen. Chaloempon Srisawat said. “The club has received more than 90 million baht per year, but it does not return satisfactory results.”

Chaloempon said Apirat may choose to disband Army United and transfer the club’s name to another army-owned football team called Royal Thai Army F.C. in order to preserve United’s century-old history.

“I believe this is the best solution for this problem and it will continue the legacy of the team that has been established since 1916,” Chaloempon said.

According to the source in the armed forces, Apirat had given United a year to move up their ranking to the country’s top league, but it failed.

There are five tiers in the Thai football league system. United is currently playing in the second tier league for four years in a row. But Royal Thai Army F.C. isn’t faring any better either; the team is in the lowest tier of professional football league.

United’s biggest achievement was in 1983, when it won Kor Royal Cup – the highest trophy of Thai football competition until it was discontinued in 2016. The Thai Army Sports Stadium on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road served as the team’s home stadium.

Most players are soldiers, though foreign players are also hired to play for the team, such as forward João Paulo from Brazil and Portuguese midfielder Bruno Pinheiro.