Deputy CEO Ben Tan hopes to see more Southeast Asian stars in Thai League come 2019

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Thai League’s Deputy CEO Ben Tan lauds the success of the ASEAN import quota and hopes to see more Southeast Asian players moving to Thailand in 2019.

The Thai League announced a new initiative for the 2019 season whereby clubs can now sign up to three ASEAN players under the new quota along with three foreign imports and one Asian signing.

The new rule stipulates that all three ASEAN imports will be allowed registered and fielded in the match day squad and this will greatly impact the Southeast Asian football transfer market.

This season’s introduction of the ASEAN player quota has already seen success stories like Police Tero’s superstar striker Aung Thu from Myanmar who has scored 10 goals and amassed a cult following off the pitch.

In 2019, Toyota Thai League set to increase the number of ASEAN players allowed in a squad to three players, and all of them will be allowed in the starting lineup. นี่คือตัวอย่างของการเลือกผู้เล่นเพื่อลงสนาม ตามโควต้าของผู้เล่นต่างชาติ ทั้งจากเอเชีย, นอกเอเชีย และอาเซียน หลังจากที่สมาคมกีฬาฟุตบอลแห่งประเทศไทยและบริษัท ไทยลีก จำกัด ได้ประชุมร่วมกับตัวแทนสโมสรเมื่อวานนี้ โดยมุ่งหวังเพื่อขยายตลาดฟุตบอลไทยให้กว้างขึ้น และจะเริ่มปรับใช้ในฤดูกาล 2019 #ThaiLeague

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It is understood that when this ASEAN initiative was introduced for the 2018 season, it was not only to give Thai League clubs the opportunity to bring in top Southeast Asian players but also to build their club brand to the regional audience.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Thai League Ben Tan explained the rationale behind the quota increase, stating that clubs have given positive feedback.

“After implementing the Asean quota for the Thai League this year, we have seen the positive impact they have made on and off the pitch. You look at the buzz around Police Tero with Aung Thu and how well the Singapore boys are adapting. You have the Filipinos and the Malaysian players too,” Tan told FOX Sports Asia.

“We had a constructive discussion with the Toyota Thai League clubs yesterday and see the potential benefits of expanding the quota of Asean players which include making the Thai League more attractive. Majority of the clubs are in favour of the policy to be implemented in Toyota Thai League 2019.

“This will also expand and further promote Thai football exposure regionally in Asean, potentially increasing the number of fan base and commercial value of Thai football.  Clubs may receive additional revenue through sponsorships which translates to better quality players and performances on the pitch.

“It’s also our objective to bring top quality ASEAN players into the Thai League and therefore we will reassess and frame the selection criteria more stringently. It’ll be an even bigger success if we see more players from Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the other countries in 2019. That’s something I look forward to and I’m sure the fans are on the same page.”

There are a total of 21 Southeast Asian import players across the Thai League with a couple of exits during the mid-season transfer window.

The most notable names are Aung Thu who has become one of Police Tero’s biggest stars while the Singapore players are all starters at their respective clubs.

Singapore winger Gabriel Quak reckons the initiative for the 2019 season will be a huge boost for all Southeast Asian players and would love to see more Singapore stars make the move to Thailand.

Quak said: “It has been nothing but positives since joining Navy FC to play in the Thai League. I was quite nervous when I first arrived but the stronger the competition you play in, the more you improve as a player. It is good news for all Southeast Asian players with this new rule, and I hope to see more of my Singapore teammates getting a chance to play here.”

Southeast Asian players in the Thai League this season

Myanmar – Aung Thu (Police Tero), Nanda Lin Kyaw chit (PT Prachuap), Kyaw Ko Ko (Chiangrai United), Aung Kyaw Naing (Angthong), Kaung Sett Naing (Samut Sakhon)

Philippines – Javier Patino (Buriram United), Hikaru Minegishi (Pattaya United), Michael Falkesgaard (Bangkok United), Mark Hartmann (Ratchaburi Mitr Phol)

Vietnam – Michael Nguyen (Air Force Central)

Singapore – Zulfahmi Arifin (Chonburi), Gabriel Quak (Navy FC), Hassan Sunny (Army United), Izwan Mahbud (Nongbua Pitchaya), Baihakki Khaizan (Udon Thani)

Indonesia – Terens Puhiri (Port FC), Ryuji Utomo (PTT Rayong), Rudolof Yanto Basna (Khon Kaen FC)

Laos – Khamphanh Sonthanalay (Ubon Ratchathani)

Malaysia – Shahrel Fikri (Nakhon Ratchasima), Curran Ferns (Sukhothai FC)

Photo credit: Thai FA Facebook