Following the success of a similar initiative for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, the Malta Football Association launched the Goal Card for the forthcoming EURO 2016 Qualifiers which will enable holders to save up to €40 in all on single match-tickets for the five home qualifiers.
Malta was drawn in Group H together with Italy, Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. The EURO Qualifiers kick-off in September with the first home game being against Norway on October 10. Three days later, Malta hosts Italy. On June 12, Malta hosts Bulgaria; Azerbaijan on September 6 and Croatia on October 13.
Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, MFA Chief Executive Officer Bjorn Vassallo said the EURO 2014 Championship will be the first to feature twenty-four teams. Apart from the winners of the nine groups, the nine runners-up together with the best third-placed team will qualify automatically. Joining them will be four other teams from the play-offs between the other eight teams finishing third together with hosts France.
Vassallo said that a new concept for these qualifiers is that now all matches are being played as double-headers on the dates allocated on the new FIFA calendar following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between UEFA and the ECA.
The MFA CEO said that this was also discussed during a recent meeting between the MFA and the Premier League Clubs Standing Committee which focussed on the international calendar and the payments clubs will receive for having players representing the national team.
Following a request by clubs, the association will no longer operate a training scheme throughout the season but players called for a particular match will join the squad a few days earlier to train at Ta’ Qali. Together with Italian organisation K-Sport, the MFA Technical Centre has been analysing performance data of a number of players and a report will be published later this year. The data will be used in the selection of players and also to compare their progress from one season to another. MFA Technical Director Robert Gatt and Physical Trainer Luca Pagani are in charge of this project.
Vassallo said that the EURO 2016 draws provided Malta with a group which is quite similar to that in the 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign. Italy and Bulgaria were drawn with Malta once again while Norway, Croatia and Azerbaijan could be easily compared to Denmark, Czech Republic and Armenia. He said that apart from the heavy defeats to Bulgaria and Denmark, Malta did quite well, collecting three points in a win over Armenia.
The MFA CEO stressed that since the top two teams in the group qualify and the third may also qualify, the teams which usually lie in fourth and fifth place are expected to maintain the challenge till the very end.
MFA Head of Marketing Norman Saliba explained that the Goal Card is geared for those who are willing to watch all home qualifiers while securing the ticket for the Malta vs Italy match which will definitely attract the largest amount of spectators.
Saliba announced that there is a 10% discount on the price of the Goal Card, a reduction on the price of all children’s Goal Cards and children’s single match-tickets for the Millennium Stand and South Stand while Goal Cards and single match-tickets are now available for the South Stand. These incentives are in response of the loyalty shown by the general public for the launch of the Goal Card for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and also to thank children for the overwhelming support during the UEFA Under-17 Championship which was held last May.
The Goal Card prices will be as follows:
West C Stand: Adults €90, Children (under 12) €45;
Millennium Stand: Adults €50, Children (under 12) €25;
South Stand: Adults €30, Children (under 12) €10.
Apart from saving up to €40, Goal Card holders may win one of the following prizes:
• One of 5 Seasons Tickets for domestic matches
• One of 5 Signed National Team Shirts
• A One Year FREE Membership at the National Stadium Swimming Pool
• A GOAL CARD for your partner
• The chance to have your photo taken with the National Team Squad
• A FREE Stadium Tour for the family
The Goal Card may be obtained from www.mfa.com.mt or from the Malta Football Association, Millennium Stand Floor 2, National Stadium, Ta’ Qali, between 09:00 and 17:30. Goal Cards are already on sale and will be available until August 31st. Only people residing in Malta may obtain the Goal Card.
Normal ticket-prices will be as follows:
Malta vs Italy
West C Stand: Adults €50, Children (under 12) €20;
Millennium Stand: Adults €30, Children (under 12) €10;
North Stand: Adults €20, Children (under 12) €5;
South Stand: Adults €20, Children (under 12) €5.
Malta vs Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Croatia
West C Stand: Adults €20, Children (under 12) €10;
Millennium Stand: Adults €12, Children (under 12) €5;
North Stand: Adults €10, Children (under 12) €2;
South Stand: Adults €8, Children (under 12) €2.
Tickets for Malta vs Norway and Malta vs Italy go on sale on September 9.