Marsaxlokk to appeal against board decision

Marsaxlokk FC announced that they will appealing against the Board to Investigate Corrupt Practices’ decision to demote the club to Division 1 as they pointed out a number of reasons why they cannot accept the board’s decision. 
Club president Robert Micallef and legal adviser Dr Ian Spiteri Bailey were speaking during a press conference which was held on Monday at the Southport Cafe, Marsaxlokk. 
In his introduction, Dr Spiteri Bailey made it clear that Marsaxlokk FC were all out against any acts which go against the spirit of fair play and said he was convinced the club was never involved in such acts.
Dr Spiteri Bailey explained that the club was condemned for an alleged act by a third person, under the principle of vicarious liability, and therefore was carrying the responsibility for the act of a third person.
The Marsaxlokk legal adviser said that the process involved to search for evidence could have been much more transparent. He said that as a club, their main objective was that the whole truth would emerge from the process. However, according to Dr Spiteri Bailey, there were many hurdles – both due to particular regulations and also due to the board’s actions.
He said that the club had presented a number of preliminary exceptions but the board did not decide whether to admit such evidence in the beginning but only at the end. The board was obliged to decide on these matters in the beginning of the process. 
Dr Spiteri Bailey said that they were not given the opportunity to ask questions to Inspector Angelo Gafa, as one of their witnesses. He said this was not meant to be a counter-examination of the witness but they wanted to know more about what Inspector Gafa testified in court and what was he told by Msida St. Joseph goalkeeper Matthew Camilleri.
The Marsaxlokk legal adviser explained that for the Malta Football Association to obtain the official court documents, they had to apply to appear in the case as parte-civile. Their application was neither approved nor rejected but still, the association managed to obtain a photo-copy of the documents. He said they had asked the board whether this evidence could be admitted or not. 
Dr Spiteri Bailey went on to question the various functions of the MFA Board to Investigate Corrupt Practices as he said this was wearing different hats as investigator, prosecutor and judge. The same board analyses the case prima facie, then investigates the case and brings people in front of the board to submit evidence, then prepares the charges and finally hands the sentence. He insisted that the board cannot be considered as independent or autonomous since it was bound by the statute and regulations of the Malta Football Association. 
The Marsaxlokk legal adviser went on to say that although he agreed with what the board pointed out in their report that they wanted to fight corruption, while doing so they cannot deny the right of defence. He said that Marsaxlokk’s version of facts was sidelined and therefore the club will continue fighting until the whole truth emerges.
Reference was made to evidence by Valletta FC president Victor Sciriha in front of the board, according to whom, Inspector Gafa had travelled to Switzerland with Sliema Wanderers officials, visited the UEFA headquarters thanks to an accreditation obtained by Birkirkara and then spent the rest of the time with officials of these two clubs together with Hibernians and Valletta. He said this was not acceptable considering that Inspector Gafa was awaiting for the go-ahead to start investigating a match involving one of those clubs.
Dr Spiteri Bailey questioned whether the whole case was based on an assumption since according to evidence, Matthew Camilleri said that when he was approached, he assumed it was something regarding the game. He also asked whether action was taken over statements by Msida president Robert Farrugia.
He concluded by saying the club was leaving all options open and that they will leave no stone unturned in order to get the whole truth.
Meanwhile Marsaxlokk president Robert Micallef said although the process so far took a long time, it was important to emphasise on the fact that everyone is entitled to a fair hearing. He said that corruption has always been and will always be there and pointed out that the solution of this case would not mean that there will no longer be any corruption in football.
Micallef assured Marsaxlokk supporters that he will not step down and criticised four Executive Committee members who first voted in favour of a Premier League with nine clubs and a few days later changed their mind, voting in favour of a Premier League with ten clubs.
Robert Micallef concluded by saying that now that the league has been temporarily suspended, the association should wait for the decisions of the Appeals Board and eventually the Independent Arbitration Tribunal before resuming the competition.