Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Going back in time...........TPL 1996/97

Looking back at the formation of the TPL. Where were you back in 1996/97??

Bangkok Bank were greatly receiving the first ever TPL Championship, - how times have changed - they're no longer with us.

The Structure

18 clubs took centre stage, primilary from Bangkok to fight for a top four finish to enter the end of season playoffs to be crowned champions.

Were the end of season playoffs a success? Well, no, they were never used again. They were possibly created to mirror the structure of West Asian countries, which send their top 4 teams into another competition.

6 clubs, would be relegated, thats quite a lot. I can only assume at the beginning of the TPL, 18 clubs enetered an were accepted, with no serious lower level football to go into , they then generally had to take part until a proper structure was formed.

So, the TPL had 18 clubs, playing each team twice to make 34 games, quite a lot of games in the earlier days, which would drastically be changed within the enxt few season.

6 clubs would get releagted, and 4 entering a championship playoff.

The championship playoffs

The top four, Thai Farmers Bank, TOT, Bangkok Bank and SET FC met in two semi-finals.

Highly fancied Thai Farmers Bank, coming off the back of two Asian Champions League victories in 1994 and 1995 would meet the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET FC). Two very original names!.

SET FC just scraped into the championship playoff, by having 2 more goals than UCOM RajPracha, todays Raj-Pracha-Nonthaburi side.

SET duly won the game 2-0 and caused a crisis in the TFB team, possibly leading to the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis aswell (whatever??) and would meet Bangkok Bank in the final after they defeated TOT 3-2.

At stake for the winners of the SET FC - BKK Bank match, would be a place in the Asian Club Championship. Asia's very own top club event.

A lot was at stake, SET had shares on the game, BKK Bank had foriegn currency, possibly obtained illegally. Anyway, Bangkok Bank triumphed and ran anyway with the silverware, 2-0.

The Relegation Clash

As previously stated, 6 out of 18 would go down, leading to a formation of an elite 12 in the TPL the following year, and a new 1st division to be formed.

The 6 teams who failed to make it into the top 12 elite, Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, Osotsapa, Bangkok Bank of Commerce, Raj Vithi, Krung Thai Bank and Thamrongthai will join the top four teams from the old second division - Rayong, Samut Prakan, Royal Household Bureau and Bank for Agriculture and Co-Operatives - to make up a new second tier. It was also confirmed that there will be no play-offs for the championship this year and just one team will go either down to the Second Division and up to the first. However, the second bottom team in the top division will have to face. The second placed team in the second division to decide who takes up a place in the top 12 next year.

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