Sheffield United’s CEO Trevor Birch and Group Executive Director Mike Farnan were invited to the prestigious setting of Malta’s residential Presidential Palace on Thursday. The United officials presented Margaret Abela – the wife of Malta’s president, with a cheque for £2,500 towards the Malta Community Chest fund. The donation was raised at the end of last season, as part of the club’s Player of the Year awards.
Margaret Abela was also presented with a Sheffield United shirt that had been signed by the squad of players attending this year’s Blades pre-season tour of Malta. The shirt will now be auctioned off for the charity organisation.
Mike Farnan said: “It was a great honour to meet the wife of Malta’s President at such a notable location. This occasion reflects the special bond that has grown between Sheffield United and the country of Malta. United’s rooted partnership with the Malta Tourism Authority not only delivers strong promotion to the UK of the island as a holiday destination, but links in with our commitment to support local community initiatives both in Sheffield and Malta.”
Earlier in the day the Blades supporters were invited to attend the Thursday morning training session. United opened the doors to the public at the Malta FA training grounds in Ta Qali, which has been acting as the team’s base camp.
The session gave supporters an early glimpse of new signings Daniel Bogdanovic, Steve Simonsen, Johnny Ertl and Leon Britton. There was also a warm welcome for the Blades regulars, that included the likes of club captain Chris Morgan and Blades 2009-10 Player of the Year, Nick Montgomery and striker Richard Cresswell. All three players have recently signed contract extensions with the Blades.
The training session granted Blades supporters a rare insight into the intense training programme the players undergo pre-season. The crowd watched on as the players completed a series of warm-up, crossing and shooting exercises before playing in a nine-a-side match.
United’s new Maltese signing Daniel Bogdanovic said: “It is great to be back so close to home and have a chance to meet up with some friends and the fans. The main focus is to get fit, so I am ready to challenge for a place in the Blades side. Conditions are very hot, which is less of a problem for me, but the lads are giving it everything in training and coping well.”