Thai league keen to introduce Southeast Asian import quota

The Premier League of Thailand (PLT) could introduce an ASEAN player quota from the 2017 season onwards to encourage clubs to look to Southeast Asia for talent.

I have had some good and positive feedback from the clubs, saying they would like to do it

- Benjamin Tan

Under current rules, each team is allowed to sign five foreign players – four from anywhere in the world and one from Asia. The proposal would result in one of the non-Asian slots being reserved for players from the ASEAN region. 

The motion is set to be debated at a league meeting in September.

If clubs agree then stars from countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam would have more opportunities to play in Thailand, widely regarded as the best league in the ASEAN region.

“This is something we are currently exploring,” PLT deputy chief executive Benjamin Tan told FourFourTwo. “I have had some good and positive feedback from the clubs, saying they would like to do it.”

Hassan is currently the only SEA player competing in Thailand

At the moment, the only Southeast Asian player in Thailand's top tier is Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny at Army United.

For Tan, there would be numerous benefits for clubs if they choose to utilise the proposed slot.

“ASEAN is a region of 630 million people, one of the most populated regions in the world,” the Singapore-born official said.

“With this policy, we can attract not only the best players from the region but potential sponsors too as there would be a lot of eyeballs on the Thai league.”

It would not be compulsory for clubs to fill the slot, but Tan insists it would be an opportunity for Thai and ASEAN football to develop.

“Under the current system, clubs don't often think about signing ASEAN players, but that could change,” he said. “Imagine if someone like Le Cong Vinh from Vietnam was playing in Thailand?”

Photos: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo