Incentives for clubs are at the heart of proposals by one of the two candidates for the post of president of the Malta Football Association – Norman Darmanin Demajo. The former MFA treasurer was explaining his electoral manifesto during a meeting with representatives of member clubs which was held on Wednesday at the Le Meridien St. Julian’s.
Darmanin Demajo said that his programme had three important priorities – “Clubs, clubs and clubs” – since he believes that direct investment in clubs and funding were among the key elements to raise the level of the game in Malta.
Improvement of clubs’ training facilities is divided into three levels. Darmanin Demajo said the association will invest directly in clubs’ infrastructure so that all clubs have adequate training facilities completed within an agreed time frame (Level 1). A number of 11-a-side football grounds, for example Mosta, Siggiewi, Santa Lucia, Mtarfa, Dingli, Sirens and Floriana, will be converted into Regional Pitches which would be able to host competitive matches with stands that could host between 500 and 1,000 spectators (Level 2).
The MFA would also invest directly in existing stadiums like the Hibernians Stadium at Corradino and the Victor Tedesco Stadium in Hamrun so that these are upgraded further to be able to host more spectators (Level 3).
Darmanin Demajo announced a financial package for all the clubs competing in MFA competitions. This includes substantial income increases as a result of elimination of the hire of pitch charges for all matches played in all divisions, increased share of gates for home teams based on a proposed new league format that will see the increase in the number of matches played, reduced match day expenses, and the provision of sponsored match balls for all league and knock-out matches.
Premier League clubs will also benefit from parachute payments, match day privileges which will include the free use of the Ta’ Qali Executive Boxes, VIP match day passes and the use of corporate hospitality facilities for sponsors and guests. He said that the package also provides for measures aimed at assisting clubs in managing and improving their cash flow requirements during the season.
Darmanin Demajo promised transparency and full accountability for funds received by the MFA under the UEFA Hat-Trick Programme. He said that each year, the association receives:
– €250,000 for implementing the UEFA club licensing system;
– €250,000 for non-top competitions participation (U21, Youths, Women, Futsal);
– €100,000 for implementing the UEFA Coaching Convention;
– €100,000 for implementing the UEFA Grassroots Charter;
– €1,000,000 for improving good governance within the UEFA member association;
– UEFA Jubilee Mini Pitches programme
He said that an independent internal audit department will be setup to ensure that funds received from UEFA under the various assistance programmes, will be applied in accordance with the conditions and regulations stipulated by UEFA.
The candidate for the MFA presidency announced that an assistance package will be agreed with all Member Associations to assist them in the organisation of their competitions, venues and referees. Member associations will also be able to make use of the Football Business Centre which would be set-up at Ta’ Qali for use by these associations. Fees for referees will be covered not only for MFA competitions but also for competitions organised by member associations.
Darmanin Demajo said the MFA would start discussions with the Youth FA regarding the relocation and incorporation of the Youth FA administration within the Ta’ Qali complex and the initiation of discussions with the Youth FA leading to the eventual transfer, use and management of the Centenary Stadium as a permanent “Grassroots Centre and Home for Youth Football”.
In fact, with the relocation of lower division matches to Regional Pitches, the Centenary Stadium could become the Grassroots Centre. Current plans for the National Grassroots Centre within the MFA Training Grounds will be postponed since the need for a new stadium in the south of Malta is more urgent. He revealed that a site has already been identified for this purpose.
Darmanin Demajo said the association will continue to invest in infrastructural projects designed to enhance the facilities of the Gozo Stadium which could once again stage international matches. He said discussions will be held with the Gozo FA over proposed changes to the MFA statute regarding the registration of Gozitan players with individual Gozitan clubs; technical and administrative assistance for Gozo FA and Gozitan clubs; special considerations and allowances for Gozitan youth teams taking part in MFA leagues and new initiatives and ideas that could be considered for mutual benefit such as the individual participation of Gozitan teams in the proposed new format for the FA Trophy, among other items.
As regards the refereeing sector, Darmanin Demajo said discussions will be held with the MFRA regarding the relocation of the MFRA administration to Ta’ Qali. He is also proposing a number of incentives designed to attract more individuals to refereeing and a new revised package of benefits for existing referees aimed at motivating and improving the quality of match officials at all levels. Twinning arrangements with Referees Associations of other countries will be sought, encouraging exchanges of referees designed to give local referees more exposure to international experiences.
A direct investment is also planned for coach education and training. Darmanin Demajo said a National Coaching Library will be set-up, providing software application programs and interactive coaching and match analysis tools designed to assist coaches all the way from grassroots level to the professional game. The MFA will offer the MFCA suitable premises at Ta’ Qali including the free use of the Ta’ Qali training grounds for workshops, seminars and continued education programs.
The MFA presidential candidate said that a fully qualified Technical Director, with experience in coaching and football management at top level in European leagues, will be engaged at the Technical Centre which will be transformed into a networking hub for all member club coaches, teams and technical staff, who will work together towards raising the level of football at club level. He said the Technical Centre will adopt an open house policy, and seek to work hand in hand with clubs’ coaches on a day to day basis. Direct assistance will be given to clubs in terms of technical, tactical, physical fitness, sports science, goalkeeper coaching and mental preparation, etc… and the use of Technical Centre facilities including the Sports Science Centre and the Sports Business Centre which will be set-up.
The National Teams sector is also in for a complete review. He said that the final document will be agreed upon after consultation with the Technical Director, the National Team Coach, the Club Coaches and all Club representatives.
A professional marketing department will be set up to implement a number of marketing initiatives and opportunities that presently exist and that would generate substantial additional income, for the benefit of the Association, the Member Clubs and Associations.
The MFA will provide all members with immediate access to a help phone or help desk where guidance and assistance can be sought by Member Clubs and Associations regarding any administrative issue that the Member Clubs and Associations may need assistance with.
Darmanin Demajo announced that a complete review of the present system of MFA financing will be undertaken. A Finance Committee will consider alternative ways of finance to ensure that all present MFA commitments will be honoured, and at the same time provide for the fresh injection of capital that is envisaged for investment in the infrastructural projects.
Other financial assistance to clubs include the Transfer Credit Scheme and the Club Collateral Scheme.
The Transfer Credit Scheme will attempt to address the issue of lack of cash flow which sometimes restricts the movement of players, with the injection of fresh capital into the local transfer market and providing Clubs with a credit amount per Club. Funds which will be backed by MFA long term funds.
The Club Collateral Scheme will make up for a problem faced by member clubs trying to raise funds for short term loans and/or to overcome periods of negative cash flows. The scheme is designed to assist clubs in meeting short term finance requirements from Bank loans guaranteed by an MFA fund that will be made specifically available for this purpose.
Clubs willing to employ a full-time administrator will be eligible to apply for an MFA grant of up to €8,000 per season if these persons successfully follow the Diploma In Club Administration course.
The MFA presidential candidate said that he will confirm commitments made by MFA President Dr. Joe Mifsud regarding the payment of a €5,000 grant, each year for three years, to Member Clubs and specified Associations from proceeds of television rights from national team friendly match should the game be confirmed.
He also confirmed he believes the Premier League format should be changed to one with twelve teams, played on three rounds, and that the FA Trophy should be open to all clubs, possibly also Gozitan clubs.
Darmanin Demajo concluded by telling those present, “We are at a crossroad and you have to decide which direction football should take. Take responsibility for your decision.”
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One of the persons flanking Darmanin Demajo is Antoine Portelli who is running for the post of treasurer.
Portelli, who is a former commitee member of Msida St. Joseph and MFA Executive Committee member in the past season, said that Darmanin Demajo’s leadership style is compatible with his vision of how the association should be run. Like Darmanin Demajo, Portelli promises to maintain close contact with the clubs.
The other candidates for the post of treasurer are current treasurer Alex Manfre and assistant treasurer Paul Bugeja.