Less Than Meets The Eye.
In this surreal transfer window, where someone who looks like David Beckham spotted in a barbers creates a fact free story, TLF towers are bombarded with details of players and coaches looking to join Thai clubs. Some are speculative and starry eyed, but there are also top level coaches and players who would enrich the standards of the game here.
Like a marriage proposal from a centerfold to an octogenarian, it’s always useful to read between the lines. Our approach to the blizzard of CVs is, “less is more.” A concise and clear resume doesn’t need the smoke and mirrors of a bit part player in a small time league. But we mustn’t forget these are young men leaving their family to risk everything on the chance to be caught being good. As a father, reading some of the thinly dressed begging letters is heart breaking, but it’s not fair to string them along with unreal expectations.
Some requests are from highly able people. One that stands out on our books is from a current national assistant coach. He wants to work at a TPL team but will consider first division and even emerging regional teams as, at only forty, a medium term project with developing academy teams would create a sustainable club for him to develop. He’s heard about the high wages being banded about and assumes this is underpinned by a structured plan. And therein lies the problem.
A first division player recently scored both goals in a friendly against a regional side. The President of the opposition immediately offered him a 100,000 Baht a month contract when they don’t even have working showers or a changing room. Teams with shiny new coaches and a cow field for a pitch or clubs that, when players finally get paid, are expected to give humble thanks show just how skewed priorities become in a world of instant solutions, not long term growth. From a professional background, facing this would be like pulling a turd out of a tombola.
Yesterday I met with a representative from Indian football as they prepare this week’s cosmetic circus Super Great Best League. The way things are run there makes Thai football feel like a utopian soccer wonderland. What makes it worse for Indian teams is that some of their clubs have been running for over a century. Here we are dealing with a toddler who could change his ways, but they are dealing with a decrepit old man set in his. A Bollywood star has decided to invest 50 million dollars in a club, will bring in some vastly expensive personnel and when he grows tired of it, will look for another toy to play with. Just ask Steve Darby about how poorly they treat people.
Yesterday the Prime Minister was briefed about the idea of a salary cap. Wages in Thai football are like interest rates in the booming English seventies. As they climbed every higher and wages spiked to match, the unsustainable friction this caused resulted in a financial orgy we are still nursing the hangover from today. Unless Thai football addresses this madness soon, the first domino will fall and a process will start that lays waste to brittle castles built on sand.