Into the final straight

Kasetsart University Stadium – at home to Sukhothai last weekend.

Thai League 2 – mid April 2022 and just two match days remaining

There are just two match days left in the League 2 season – and as Donald Rumsfeld infamously said: “there are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

The known knowns: Navy FC and Khon Kaen FC are both relegated from T2. Promoted from T3 to T2 are Krabi FC and Uthai Thani FC, who return to T2 after just one season. Chiang Mai United are relegated from T1.

One of the top three (Trat, assuming neither Lamphun nor Sukhothai drop points) will finish third and be the top team in the play-offs. Chainat are also certain of a play-off spot.

The known unknowns: One of Rajpracha FC or Ladkrabang Customs United will be relegated from T2 to T3. Either Nahkon Si United or Phitsanulok will join T2. They are tied 1-1 after the first leg of their T3 play-off.

The remaining two play-off places are between Lampang, Muangkan, Phrae and a (very) remote chance for Udon Thani should other results go their way. Lampang have to travel away to both Trat and Muangkan. Phrae would be disappointed not to take six points from their last two games. Muangkan should pick up three points at home to Navy leaving the Muangkan v Lampang match on 30 April to decide the final play-off place.

Phrae and Chainat were the beaten semi-finalists in last season’s play-offs.

Who comes down with Chiang Mai United is a mystery? Samut Prakan City are very unlikely to survive; Suphanburi have a Houdini-like habit of last-minute escapes. PT Prachuap would be a welcome addition to the increasingly diverse destinations of T2.

The unknown unknowns; will every T2 team return for next season? Too much red ink is not sustainable. There are rumours; there will always be rumours. But a club needs a FAT license, a stadium, a squad of players and above all else enough money to operate; and even more money to be successful. Sponsors are few and far between and are more goods-in-kind than hard currency. Wealthy benefactors are needed; and as Lamphun has shown wealthy benefactors can reset the ambitions of both a club and its supporters within a season.

If an existing T2 club folds is a lifeline thrown to the relegated club or to the club that loses the T3 play-promotion play-off?

And so to the final two weeks of the season: next Sunday the two leading teams in T2 play the two teams trying to avoid the drop. Lamphun will be certain of promotion if they win their home game with Rajpracha while Sukhothai play at home to Customs United. Both Lamphun and Sukhothai have won all three games played in April; the only teams in the League to do so.

Meanwhile, Trat are at home to Lampang on Saturday in a must win game for the long time leaders of T2. If Sukhothai and Trat both win then the final automatic promotion place will not be decided until the final round of games and Trat have the head-to-head results advantage over Sukhothai.

To take one of the automatic promotion places Trat have to hope that either of Lamphun or Sukhothai drops points in their remaining two games.

The T2 promotion play-off semi-finals will take place over four weekends in May. Last year’s play-off winners were Khon Kaen United who beat Nakhon Pathom on penalties behind Covid-closed doors. Expect more play-off drama this year.