Thai FA sets up summit to resolve broadcast rights dispute

The Football Association of Thailand has called on all relevant parties to find a solution to the rights issue jeopardising the conclusion of Thai League 1.

Football Association of Thailand president Somyot Poompunmuang has invited the chairs of the top-flight clubs, representatives of the Thai PFA and Thai League 1 broadcast rights holder TrueVisions to meet in Bangkok on July 21, the Bangkok Post reports.

The future of Thai League 1 season was put in doubt when TrueVisions expressed its inability to broadcast live matches beyond October as per its contract. However, it expressed its willingness to sign a new contract with the FAT to the end of this year.

The FAT has a three-year contract with TrueVisions worth a total of THB1.2 bn ($37.8m/€33,2m) per year which expires on October 25.

In May, FAT president Somyot said that the league was considering permanently switching to a schedule that straddled two years, mirroring football seasons in Europe. The FAT wants to resume the Thai League 1 season on September 12 and run it until May 15, 2021.

TrueVisions is threatening legal action over the changes to this season’s schedule, and has also demanded a reduction in its rights fees due to a lower number of matches being delivered than stipulated in its original contract.

Only four rounds of matches were completed in the 2020 Thai League 1 season before it was suspended in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this season’s Thai League 1 was reduced from 18 to 16 teams.

The FAT has already completed the bidding process for TV rights from 2021-2028 for all events under its governance, including Thai Leagues 1-3, the FA Cup and the League Cup. TrueVisions lost the broadcast rights from next season onwards.

According to the Bangkok Post report Zense Entertainment Co is favourite to become the new licence holder for Thai football for eight years, starting 2021. Zense has reportedly offered to pay the FAT THB1.5 bn per year, or THB12 bn over eight seasons.