Football Tribe SEA Editor
The Thai League is set to play out its fixtures behind closed doors in March, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus which has affected the country.
After holding an initial meeting on Friday, February 28th to discuss the implications of the outbreak, the Thai FA decided not to postpone any matches but floated the option of closing games off to fans if necessary.
However, after reviewing the situation, the FA made the decision to play all of March’s fixtures behind closed doors.
“Since there are many people involved and attending the match, it is the duty of FA Thailand together with the Thai League to prevent an epidemic,” Thai League CEO Benjamin Tan commented of the decision “In accordance with the government’s announcement, the matches must be played closed doors.”
“After the end of March, we will consider the next step,” Tan added. “At the national team level, we are awaiting AFC Guidelines and outcome at this coming Monday’s meeting at AFC.”
BREAKING: FA Thailand announce that all matches of Thai League 1-4 in March will be played behind closed door after the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand has officially announced COVID-19 as the Dangerous Communicable Disease yesterday. pic.twitter.com/d8Evf87VD2
— All Things Thai Football 🇹🇭 (@ThaiFootballs) March 1, 2020
When asked whether playing the games behind closed doors was deemed preferable to simply postponing the games, an option preferred by some supporters, Mr. Tan noted the FA’s desire not to disrupt the league schedule for the remainder of the year.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak having an impact on public life in Thailand, matchday attendances have remained relatively strong. The current average attendance stands at 5,196, which represents a 9% drop from last season’s average but might be skewed as one of the country’s best-supported clubs, Nakhon Ratchasima, are yet to play a home game.
“The opening matches had better attendances than last year,” Benjamin Tan noted, “but the coronavirus may affect fans from turning up at stadium due to the precautions, which is understandable.”
However, due to health and safety precautions, the Thai League has deemed that it must play March’s games behind closed doors. The league will proceed as scheduled, starting with Matchday 5 slated to kick off on Saturday, March 7th.