New Premier League format approved

MFAThe Council of the Malta Football Association voted in favour of a new format for the BOV Premier League which involves scrapping the Championship Pool and Relegation Pool but retains the halving of points at the end of the first phase. This was one of two amendments which were approved on Tuesday – the Rules Governing Competitions (Section VII of the MFA Handbook) and the Competition Rules (Section V of the MFA Handbook).

According to the new format, the first phase will be played by all clubs on a two-round basis. At the end of the first phase, points will be halved and then all clubs will play once another on a one-round basis.

The bottom two clubs will be relegated to Division 1 while the team finishing tenth in the Premier League will participate in a Premier Division Play-Out with the team placing third in the First Division.

The winner will secure a place in the Premier League the following season while the loser will play in the First Division.

In the Premier Division Play-Out match, the number of ‘foreigners’ (players who did not form part of the Youth Sector of the Association) will be limited to four while the number of ‘foreign players’ on the line-up shall not exceed five.

MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo said that the general feeling was that we had to look into format of Premier League. He said that the association did not want to change just for the sake of change. The MFA President said that personally he was against a format where points were halved and teams were divided in two. However he was ready to accept the halving of points.

Darmanin Demajo said that several meetings were held with all stake-holders to discuss possible formats and eventually found a format with which most people agreed.

The MFA President explained that originally the format proposed involved play-offs for the UEFA Europa League between the teams lying in third, fourth, fifth and sixth place and play-outs against relegation between the teams placing eighth to eleventh. A format similar to the one used in the Eredivisie in The Netherlands.

However since clubs wished to have a format where points were halved in order to increase competitivity.

The sequence of matches for the third round will be worked in a way that the top six teams will be playing against each other in the last five match-days.

Premier League clubs will be playing thirty-three matches instead of the current twenty-two. There will be 198 matches in all which will be played between August and May.

Another amendment focussed on the date when the summer window ends in the Regulations regarding Players Registered with Member Clubs (Section IV of the MFA Handbook). Thanks to this amendment, provided that when the 31st August falls on either Saturday or Sunday, the transfer window shall end on the first Monday in September.

An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Association which followed the Council Meeting voted in favour of bringing into effect the amendments to the Rules Governing Competitions (Section VII of the MFA Handbook) and to the Competition Rules (Section V of the MFA Handbook) approved by the Council earlier, from the start of the football season 2014/15.