How BG Pathum United won the Thai League in their first season back

After winning their first-ever Thai League 1 title, bigger challenges lie in wait for BG Pathum United as they prepare for their AFC Champions League debut in April 2021. BG Pathum United

In a remarkable tale of resurgence, BG Pathum United were crowned champions of the Thai League 1 in their first season since winning promotion back to the big time.

The 2-0 win on Thursday over Sukhothai saw the Rabbits establish an insurmountable 19-point lead at the top of the table with just six games remaining in the 2020-21 season and securing their first top-flight league crown.

Further highlighting their dominance is the fact that BGPU have yet to lose this season after 24 matches and could finish the campaign with an unblemished record -- an achievement that only Muangthong United (2012) and Buriram United (2013, 2015) have managed in the history of the Thai League 1.

Becoming champions in the first season after winning promotion would have been beyond the wildest dreams of even their most optimistic fans, so how did they pull off the unthinkable?

For starters, it was a shock in itself that the club -- in their previous iteration as Bangkok Glass -- were even relegated in the first place.

Although they had never won the title, the Rabbits regularly featured in the top five at the end of each season -- finishing as high as third as recently as 2016.

The Thai League's decision to reduce the number of teams in the top flight in 2018 -- resulting in five clubs rather than the usual three being demoted at the end of that year -- coupled with an uncharacteristically poor campaign from the club resulted in the perfect storm.

Nonetheless, BGPU were able to bounce straight back up again and the club's pulling power, as one of Thailand's financially-stronger teams, saw them embark on a massive recruitment drive.

Established Thailand internationals like Sarach Yooyen and Sumanya Purisay were soon waltzing through the entrance of Leo Stadium, along with seasoned foreigners such as Victor Cardozo and Andres Tunez.

It did not take long at all for everything to click into place and, despite the coronavirus-enforced hiatus that forced the season to extend into 2021, BGPU immediately picked up where they left off and have not looked back since.

A quick glance at their current roster indeed illustrates how formidable a squad they boast, but considering two standouts, Teerasil Dangda and Diogo, only recently joined in the year-end transfer window, it is likely that the Rabbits could get even better.

They will welcome any further improvement given tougher challenges lie ahead starting April, with the Pathum Thani-based outfit set to make their AFC Champions League debut this year, having qualified by virtue of being the Thai League 1's highest-ranked side at the halfway mark of the campaign.

The luck of the draw has pitted against reigning Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai in Group F, but they should fancy their chances against Vietnam's Viettel and a yet-to-be-determined playoff winner and at least aim to reach to knockout round as one of the East Zone's three best runners-up.

Time will tell if BGPU are more like Buriram, who went as far as the quarterfinals of the ACL in 2013, or Chiangrai United , who won just one out of six games as they finished bottom of their group last year.

For now, they deserve to soak up all the accolades after pulling off a remarkable revival in 2021 -- a year which still has plenty of time left for them to write another chapter and scale even greater heights.