Southeast Asia Thailand

Relegation Battle Heats Up In Thai League

The Thai League’s decision to downsize the division to 16 teams next season has had a major impact on the relegation battle this season. Unlike the typical season, no less than five teams will face the drop at the end of the campaign, with three of them already confirmed as second-division sides for 2019.

Air Force Central FC were the first team to make the drop, soon followed by Ubon UMT. Siam Navy were relegated last weekend despite a respectable draw against sixth-placed Chiangrai United.

This effectively leaves two slots available to the sides currently fighting near the bottom of the table.

Police Tero are likely to be the next team to join the relegated trio after four consecutive losses. The departure of coach Totchtawan Sripan may effectively serve as a death knell for the former Thai League Champions, as they sit six points from safety with only two games remaining.

Pattaya United and Nakhon Ratchasima both effectively secured their survival in recent weeks, and Chonburi FC are likely to be the next team to be certain of their place in the division next season.

Bangkok Glass and Suphanburi took major strides towards safety during the last match-day, with the latter’s win away at Port providing them an unlikely three points which caught their fellow strugglers by surprise.

After four consecutive losses, a win and a draw against Chainat and Pattaya United respectively prevented Ratchaburi from slipping into the relegation zone for the first time since March. Despite their positive results, they remain only a point above the drop. Once considered as one of the most promising sides in the division, the Dragons are firmly embroiled in the basement battle.

That leaves Sukhothai and Chainat, who both picked up remarkable wins over Bangkok United and Muangthong respectively over the weekend. Both sides were widely tipped for the drop this season, but it seems certain that at least one of these sides will remain the division come next season.

This weekend, Police Tero host Ratchaburi in what may be one of the most consequential Thai League encounters of the season. Both were once considered as top quality Thai League sides, yet the looming spectre of relegation hangs over this crucial match.