Champions Birkirkara presented their new signings and sponsors for season 2010/11 during a press conference which was held at Teamsport, Iklin on Wednesday. The nine new players in the Birkirkara squad include Scottish goalkeeper Michael Fraser who is set to make his debut for the Stripes in Friday’s clash against rivals Valletta.
Birkirkara president Karm Galea said that last year, the club’s objectives were those of strengthening the club’s administration and being among the main challengers for honours.
Galea said that the club aimed at making the most out of the expertise held by members of the committee and employed an administrator. Following the set-up of sub-committees, the club aims at more fine-tuning in the running of these sub-committees and for better co-ordination with the youth and women’s teams.
The Birkirkara president revealed that the club is close to reaching an agreement with the government to turn part of the grounds at the St. Theresa College Girls Junior Lyceum, Mriehel into an artificial turf pitch which could be used by the club as another pitch for training besides the Infetti Grounds.
Karm Galea said that the club is working hard to increase the number of club members by launching a new membership scheme which includes a fifty-per-cent reduction for youths and a €100 VIP membership.
Galea went on to say that on the pitch, the club reached its objective of winning the Premier League title and said that this was only possible thanks to the dedication and hard work, especially of the players, coach and technical staff. He also mentioned the successful season for Birkirkara in women’s football after winning the championship and the knock-out competition.
The club aims at challenging for honours once again after starting the season on a most positive note after reaching the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and beating MSK Zilina in the first leg. A team which has now reached the group stage of the Champions League.
On a domestic level, the incidents after the BOV Super Cup final led to four players being suspended. Suspensions which definitely conditioned the start of the Stripes’ Premier League campaign.
Galea said that in summer, the club negotiated new deals with players whose contracts had expired and secured the services of new foreign players. The new players in the squad are Under-21 international forward Terence Vella, midfielder Andrew Decesare, goalkeeper Manuel Bartolo, Maltese-Australian midfielder Simon Zahra, Scottish defender Ryan Harding, goalkeeper Ezequiel Lovizon, Argentine striker Emiliano Lattes and Scottish goalkeeper Michael Fraser. Defender Patrick Borg returns with the club after a loan-spell with Mqabba.
New signings and new contracts bring more expenses for the club and therefore the support of sponsors is of utmost importance. The sponsors for this season are McDonald’s, Teamsport, Powerade, Middle Sea Valletta Life and Laferla Insurance.
The Birkirkara president concluded his address by congratulating new MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo and thanking Dr Joe Mifsud for the service rendered. Galea said that the club hopes Darmanin Demajo will fulfil his promise of putting the focus on clubs since improvement in the game could only be achieved by starting from football at club level.
Birkirkara coach Paul Zammit started by thanking all the players and members of the technical staff who had worked hard together to achieve the title last season, including those players who are no longer with the club and former technical staff members Mario Gatt and John Galea. He also thanked the president and committee for keeping the core players at the club and for strengthening the squad.
This season Zammit has a 22-man squad at his disposal following the departure of seven players and the arrival of nine new players.
Zammit said that similar to other teams taking part in European competitions, the team did not have any break in summer due to the UEFA Champions League commitments. He believes that this issue should be tackled by the association as it is of utmost importance for local clubs to be well prepared for taking part in European football as this is a source of experience from which clubs could learn a lot.
The start of the Premier League campaign was not as he would have expected although the fact that key players were unavailable mainly due to suspensions. Zammit was particularly disappointed with the team’s performance in the game against Floriana.
The Birkirkara coach revealed that players who will be available for training during the morning will be asked to train twice a week besides the usual training sessions.
Paul Zammit concluded by saying that for a club like Birkirkara, the main objective should always be that of challenging for honours. He said that now after winning the title, things are much more difficult since staying at the top is much more difficult than trying to reach the top.