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Top five clubs from Thai League 1

Published at :May 22, 2024 at 5:18 PM
Modified at :May 22, 2024 at 5:18 PM
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Uttiyo Sarkar

The most successful club in the Thai League 1 is Buriram United.

The Thai League 1 is one of the most exciting domestic leagues in Asia and often boasts tight competition amongst the teams. The division was started back in 1996 and has been Thailand’s first division ever since, amid multiple rebranding. With football being among the most favored sports in the country, some Thailand sides boast impressive support thanks to their success over the decades.

The Thai League boasts some intense rivalries, including the ‘El Clasico of Thailand’ between Muangthong United and Chonburi. The Thai League also has a strong standing within the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

That is because the winners get qualification into the AFC Champions League Elite next season and the Thai Cup winners will get to play in the AFC Champions League 2. The Thai teams have been competing well in AFC competitions in recent years and also competing for the top domestic honors. With that being said, let’s look at the top five clubs from the Thai League 1.

5. Police Tero FC

Founded in 1992, Police Tero FC has had a few rebrands over the last three decades. The club was initially known as BEC Tero Sasana and achieved much of its success in this name. The Silver Shield Dragons won the Thai League 1 title in consecutive seasons in 2000 and 2001/02. Moreover, they even finished as the runners-up in the 2002/03 and 2003/04 editions, missing on the former campaign’s title by just one point.

They even finished as the runners-up of the AFC Champions League in 2002-03 season and lost to East Bengal in the 2003 ASEAN Club Championship final. However, the club started experiencing financial problems and were taken over by the Royal Thai Police in 2017. In that year, they merged BEC Tero Sasana with their own team Police United to form Police Tero FC. They got promoted from the Thai League 2 to Thai League 1 in 2020, but have failed to challenge for the title ever since.

4. BG Pathum United FC

Formerly known as Bangkok Glass before their rebranding in 2018, BG Pathum United have climbed the ranks in the Thai Football division to become one of the stronger teams. They have only won the Thai League 1 once, in the 2020/21 season and finished as the runners-up in the 2021/22 campaign. Apart from that, the Rabbits have won the Thai FA Cup once and the Thailand Champions Cup twice in the last decade.

Pathum United have played in the AFC Champions League three times in as many previous seasons, reaching the semi-finals in 2022! They finished in fifth place in the Thai League 1 in the 2023/24, but have the backing and support (including a 90,000 capacity home ground) to climb the ranks as one of Thailand’s best clubs in the future.  

3. Royal Thai Air Force FC

This was the football team of the Royal Air Force of Thailand and one of teams for the defence forces. Formed in 1937, the Royal Thai Air Force constantly competed in Thailand’s semi-professional football league until the Thai League 1’s formation in 1996. They dominated in the early years of Thai League 1, winning their first title in the 1997 and 1999 seasons. Royal Thai Air Force also finished second in the 1998 and 2000 seasons. Moreover, they also won the Thailand Kor Royal Cup 12 times and the Noi Cup 16 times!

But their fortunes started to dampen after the turn of the century. They struggled to get back in the title race after that and started experiencing problems, even suffering relegation a few times. In 2019, the Royal Thai Air Force became defunct and the owners decided to rebrand to Uthai Thani FC. Uthai Thani has not yet been able to compete for the Thai League 1 title and got promoted to the division in the 2023/24 season.

2. Muangthong United

Muangthong United might’ve only been formed in 1989 (initially as the Norgjorg Pittayanusorn School Football Team), but they have been one of Thailand’s most consistent and strongest clubs in recent decades. The Kirins have strongly competed in the Thailand top division in recent decades and have won the Thai League 1 four times in the last 15 years. The Kirins won the 2012 Thai League 1 championship after having an invincible season in which they weren’t defeated by anybody.

They have also finished as runners-up three times, while also winning the Thai League Cup twice and the Thailand Champions Cup once in their history. They have competed in the AFC Champions League four times and won a continental competition in the Mekong Club Championship in 2017 too! Muangthong United have, although, got caught up in a rust in recent years and have not finished above fourth place since the 2017 season.

1. Buriram United

Buriram United are THE undisputed best club to have come out of Thailand. Initially founded as the Provincial Electricity Authority in 1970, they were initially rebranded as Buriram PEA FC in 2010 before being named as Buriram United in 2012. However, the Thunder Castle’s fortunes only began after the turn of the 21st century. From 2008 until now, Buriram United have won the Thai top division title a whopping 10 times! They have finished as runners-up four times as well, while achieving impressive successive in cup competitions.

Indeed, the Thunder Castle has won the Thai League Cup seven times, the FA Cup six times, and the Kor Royal Cup four times. They have done the domestic treble five times and won the 2013 and 2015 league titles while going unbeaten. Buriram United are currently ranked in 42nd in the AFC club rankings and almost regularly featured in the AFC Champions League from 2012 to the 2023-24 season. Their best continental season was in 2013, when they reached the quarter-finals before elimination. Buriram United are still going strong in Thailand, having won the Thai League 1 title in the 2023-24 season, and looking set to add many more trophies to their cabinet in the future.

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