"You can change your partner, your religion, your politics, but never never can you change your football team." Eric Cantona
With this in mind, I asked a group of Thai football fans who they would choose should they ever consider the unthinkable. Today, Robert Scott explains who he would leave Chiang Mai FC for.
Name: Robert Scott
Current team: Chiang Mai FC
Could I support another Thai team thereby committing the equivalent of sporting adultery?
After all we are talking about Chiang Mai FC. A team that has had multiple parents, all have whom have quickly deserted their problem child. The jury is still out on BG’s ambitions for the club. A club that has remarkable fan loyalty given the club’s own lack of ambition and their failure to engage with supporters.
So, first things first – I would have to leave Chiang Mai. Leaving Chiang Mai would be difficult but ask me again between February and April when the air quality gets into lung-destroying numbers and I might have a different view.
I cannot be a long-distance or tv supporter – I want to be in the stadium at least thirty minutes before kick-off; team sheets and notepad in hand. Anorak nearby! I want to be there at the end for the post game rituals. I dream of a seat in the press box.
So where to go and who to support? Two decisions that really do go hand in hand. The only way to do this may be by process of elimination.
Sorry - no Bangkok based clubs. I simply do not want to live there again.
No clubs with wealthy benefactors but stuck in the middle of nowhere. No Buriram.
No club that has taken advantage of the goodwill of Chiang Mai supporters in the past or used our club to further their own ambitions. That rules out Chiang Rai.
Ideally no stadium with a running track and jumping pits outside the football pitch. A little unreasonable given that both the 700th Anniversary and the municipal stadiums in Chiang Mai both have running tracks. Though at least the stands at the Municipal Stadium are a little nearer to the action – unless you are an away supporter – and if you are then I can only apologise. Every fan I know is ashamed of how we treat our guests.
A club by the sea would be very welcome – I have always wanted to live by the sea. Which makes Chiang Mai an unlikely choice other than to say it is at a safe distance from my mother-in-law!
Ranong is a non-starter for reasons my friends will fully understand. Nice town. Loathsome football club.
Starting in League 1. Chonburi and Rayong both feel too much like an extension of Bangkok. Ratchaburi – I loved the stadium. The fans were welcoming. I just cannot imagine living there. Suphan Buri – same problem.
Which leaves just four possible League One teams – Sukhothai, Trat, PT Prachuap and Nakhon Ratchasima. Trat seems to far from anywhere – except Cambodia. Then there were three. Since I know nothing about Nakhon Ratchasima that leaves Sukhothai and PT Prachuap. Prachuap is the little town that could – in football terms battling well above its weight. But I think I would prefer to visit rather than live there. Which leaves Sukhothai which appeals to the long-forgotten historian in me. They have a proper football stadium but are currently coached by someone I cannot forgive for being complicit in ensuring CMFC were relegated last season.
As for the Championship if you enjoy living in Issan then there are plenty of options. Udon Thani are ruled out for being Muangthong’s B team. Khon Kaen ruled out for being another BG team. Which then rules out ground-sharing Khon Kaen United. Sisaket is also too far from anywhere else. Phrae is a lovely little town with a football stadium too remote to belong to the city. Others are too close to Bangkok. How about Lampang? Given the uncertainty at the end of last season over whether the club would move to Songkhla that would seem a very short-term bet. Which leaves Chiang Mai United. I am very fond of some of the people there. I hope they get promoted to League 1. I hope they return to the 700th anniversary stadium. But, for me, they will always be the other Chiang Mai club!
Which leaves Nongbua Pitchaya. Ambitious; financed; unbeaten. But where?
So into the Regional 3rd divisions. The answer is Nan. A lovely city and a team with a name that I can spell. Regular flights to Bangkok. An easy drive to Chiang Rai and not so distant from Chiang Mai. But still no beach!
That’s settled then – just don’t tell Tai.