Buriram boss pours cold water on ASL concept

With much speculation around just when the proposed ASEAN Super League (ASL) will kick off and who its possible entrants may be, one of the region’s most powerful clubs has joined the chorus of those opposed to the concept.

Speaking exclusively to FourFourTwo, Buriram United chairman Newin Chidchob has bluntly declared that he doesn’t like the idea of the ASL.

If we want to be stronger, we should encourage players to move freely within the region

“Quite simply, I don’t support the idea of an ASEAN Super League and I don’t think it works from either a competitive or organisational perspective,” he said.

“The question has to be asked as to who will actually play in this proposed tournament?

“The business terms and the return on the investment are not good enough, I mean, they’re asking small clubs to pay US$5 million (S$6.7m), but how much can those clubs win in this proposed league?”

The influential owner of Thailand’s most successful club side has his own proposal on how to improve the standard of football throughout Southeast Asia and its one that merits close consideration.

What he would like to see is a model similar to that which operates in Europe, whereby players from the same region are classified as ‘locals’ for both domestic and continental tournaments.

“If Southeast Asia wants its clubs to be more competitive from both a sporting and marketing perspective, then we need to look at how player quotas are arranged and look at the concept of free borders for the region.

“What I’m suggesting is that any player from a Southeast Asian nation should not count as an import if they play within the region. So players from Cambodia can play in Thailand, Singaporeans can play in Malaysia and so on.

“You can extend that idea to any player from a Middle Eastern nation playing in that region or players from China, South Korea or Japan moving between those respective leagues.”

Having publicly stated his aim of seeing Buriram win the Asian Champions League (ACL) within the next decade, Newin remains convinced that is the tournament regional clubs should be aspiring to have success in, rather than having their attention diverted by the proposed Super League.

“We don’t know even which clubs are aiming to play in this new competition,” he said. “But whoever they are they will then not be eligible for the Champions League and that’s the most important competition throughout Asia

“If we, as a region, want to be stronger we should encourage players to move freely within the region and if those players are classified as locals then that helps and all countries benefit in this way, rather than just a handful of clubs or whoever in this new league.”