MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo announced that there was a slight 2 percent increase in the number of spectators who attended BOV Premier League matches when compared to last season. A total of 104,025 spectators attended Premier League matches which gives an average of about 523 spectators per game or 1046 spectators for two games. Vassallo was speaking before the draws of the BOV First Division, BOV Second Division and BOV Third Division leagues at the Grand Hotel Excelsior.
The biggest increase in spectators was registered in the BOV First Division with a total of 25,200 spectators – an increase of 32% over the previous season. Attendance for BOV Third Division matches also increased by 11.5% for a total of 6,641 spectators. The only decrease in spectators was in the BOV Second Division where attendances went down by 12.5% for a total of 12,961.
The overall attendance for league matches across the four divisions was 148,827 compared to 139,975 in the previous season for an increase of 6%.
Vassallo explained that despite the introduction of seven foreign players in the Premier League during season 2015/16, 148 foreign players were used by Premier League clubs out of a total of 341 players. Therefore the majority of the players used by the Premier clubs were indeed Maltese and that this increase in foreigners had minor impact on the inclusion and performance of home grown players. The largest number of foreigners were coming from Brazil (26), Italy and Nigeria (both 22).
First Division clubs used 88 foreign players out of a total of 403 players, Second Division clubs 37 out of a total of 395 and Third Division clubs 27 out of a total of 404. In all, the number of foreigners in the four divisions was 19.3% of the players used.
The MFA General Secretary explained in detail the format for the national leagues for both the coming season and the following season. To increase the number of teams in the Premier League to 14 as from 2017/18, this season, only one team would be relegated to Division 1 while the team finishing second from bottom will play a decider against the team finishing fourth in Division 1. Points will no longer be halved at the end of the second round. The top three teams from Division 1 will be promoted automatically.
Two teams will be relegated from Division 1 to Division 2 and four promoted from Division 2 to Division 1. Two will be relegated from Division 2 to Division 3 with three promoted from Division 3 to Division 2.
As from 2017/18, two teams will be relegated and promoted automatically from all divisions while the team finishing third from bottom will play a relegation play-out/promotion play-off against the team finishing third in the lower division.