History of Thai Premier League

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The Thai Leagues 1 (Thai: ไทยลีก 1), commonly known as the T1, is a Thai professional league for Football Association of Thailand clubs. At the top of the Thai football league system, it is the country’s premier football competition. Contested by 18 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Thai Leagues 2. The Thai Leagues is a corporation in which the 18 member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from March to October, with teams playing 34 games each with a total of 306 games in the season. It is sponsored by Toyota and therefore officially known as the Toyota Thai Leagues. In the Thai Leagues, most of the games are played during Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during the weekdays.

Thai Leagues was introduced in 1996 by the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) under the name Thailand Soccer League. Eighteen clubs who earlier competed for the Kor Royal Cup were registered to play in the first edition of a double round-robin league system. Thai Farmers Bank was crowned as the first champion of the 1996–97 Thailand Soccer League.

The Thai Leagues originally had 10 to 12 clubs each season until 2007, when it was expanded to 16 clubs. At the end of each season, the three bottom placed clubs are relegated to the Thai Division 1 League.


Leagues integration

Most of Thai Leagues clubs in that time were the organization of government authorities club that based in Greater Bangkok and Metropolitan. Meanwhile, the other local clubs had competed in the semi-pro league called the Provincial League. Thai Premier League faced the issue of low attendance and lack of local loyalties while the Provincial league suffered the financial issue. In 2007, Thai Leagues was integrated with Provincial League completely. Chonburi from the Provincial League was the first champion of the new Thailand Premier League in 2007 season.

Modern era

In 2009 season, there were significant changes in the lead to the new era of the Thai Premier League. Asian Football Confederation declared the regulations for the associations that have the intention to send the clubs to compete in AFC Champions League starting from 2011. Football Association of Thailand had to establish Thai Premier League Co. Ltd and forced the clubs in the top league to complete AFC Club License Criteria otherwise Thai clubs will not eligible to play in the Champions League.

Buriram dominance

The Buriram Dominance refers to the 2013 to 2015 season, which Buriram United won Thai Premier League in three consecutive seasons as the first club in the league history. The three titles in that period included two invincible titles which Buriram United completed Thai Premier League campaign unbeaten in 2013 and 2015 season. Under Spanish head coach Alejandro Menéndez, Buriram United became the first Thai club to achieve the Quadruple by winning 4 trophies in the 2014 calendar year.

2017 Thai Leagues T1

Muangthong United are the defending champions, having won the Thai Premier League title the previous season. Army United, Chainat Hornbill and BBCU were relegated at the end of the 2016 season after finishing in the bottom three places of the table. Thai Honda Ladkrabang, Ubon UMT United and Port have entered as the three promoted teams from the 2016 Thai Leagues 2. The Top scorer is Dragan Boskovic with 30 goals as of August 10, 2017.

Muangthong United and Chonburi FC

It is the matchup that presents Thai football in the modern era. The name was given to the encounter of two teams due to the hype and massive atmosphere around the match. The first encounter between them happened in the 2009 Thai Premier League season. On 30 May 2009, Chonburi that was regarded as the best club in Thailand at that moment hosted the new powerhouse who were just promoted from Division 1 Muangthong United. The match was played at Nong Prue Stadium, Pattaya. Before the match, Chonburi was the leader in the table followed by Muangthong.

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