It’s Not All Light on the Night.
As TLF photographers visit Thai football matches it becomes increasingly obvious that many stadiums are poorly lit. Compared to the other challenges that Thai football faces, this appears pretty small change, but it indicates poor systems of implementation and review by an organisation that should be showing its product in, literally, the best possible light.Some stadiums, like Pattaya United, only have two floodlight pylons,meaning half the pitch is poorly lit. The new stand running the length of the pitch looks good, but the low lighting it gives off is counter productive. To make it worse, players come out from that stand and the benches are there, so photographers will naturally gravitate to that shadowy side.
The other issue TLF notice is at grounds like Terro’s, which started the season well lit but, due to poor maintenance, becomes progressively darker. This prevents end of match close ups of players interacting with home and away fans, a valuable unique selling point for Thai football. Some clubs, like Buriram, Bangkok Glass and Muang Thong have excellent lighting throughout the year. They recognise the importance of creating a positive and well lit environment where journalists and fans alike can take photos to be shared. Well lit images become a free advert for the club on social networks that promote a match day experience faster than any hired PR company could ever dream of. Clubs that don’t recognise this opportunity are in danger of being consigned to the Dark Ages.
Another friction point is the double standards which ban clubs like Thai Port from playing evening kick offs with their marginal lighting, whilst clubs who have lighting of the same standard, or at a lower level, can continue with impunity. When clubs travel to stadiums with poorer light than their own this fosters feelings of resentment at the lack of consistency and the impression that they are being treated unfairly.
So why should it matter? Players can see the ball and TV has enough light to broadcast games. Also a lot of local photographers come to games for a couple of team shots and early play before heading home anyway. It matters because a beautifully crafted image of great skill lifts Thai football’s profile, but a shadowy photo in virtual darkness suggests an amateur approach to how the game is viewed, valued and run. Lighting levels at all clubs should be monitored monthly by the FAT, club technical staff trained in lighting maintenance and photographers asked which issues restrict them from taking great shots. Journalists provide their subject with the oxygen of publicity. If they are kept in the dark, Thai football will be the poorer for it.