MFPA against the increase of foreigners to eight on the pitch

The Malta Football Players Association issued a statement to explain its position with regards to the proposal of increasing the number of foreign players on the pitch to eight and another three as substitutes in Premier League matches as from next season.

The MFPA recently held a meeting with the Premier League and First Division players representatives, in order to ascertain their position. It was absolutely clear that the players were against this proposal especially when considering that foreign players are free agents at the end of the contract while to acquire out of contract Maltese players a club has to pay a transfer fee up to €50,000.

“The MFPA supports the employment of non-Maltese professionals but calls for a sustainable structure, which takes into account the particular needs of Maltese football.”

“The MFPA does not understand the need for such an increase or the very rationale behind it. All Maltese football clubs continuously mention the problems they have raising income and insist that they only depend on grants from their presidents and other sponsors.”

“Why then should such clubs increase their fixed costs?”

“Foreign players are usually professionals therefore at least receiving a minimum wage, a fee for their livelihood and a place to live in. The total amount of this cost for each non-Maltese player is much higher than what an average Maltese Premier League or First Division League player receives.”

“What is the strategy of these clubs looking to increase their fixed costs? Shouldn’t they be working to achieve the opposite, and this also in view of the recently announced Financial Fair Play rules?”

“We should be looking at ways and means to reach a professional level in football clubs management, invest in local talent and then attract good quality foreign players. It would appear to us that these clubs are seeking short-term gains only. Would not a long-term strategy suggest that these funds should be best invested in the club’s infrastructure and nurseries? The proposed change will limit further the possibility for the youths to compete at the top level locally, and will limit the already small pool of players that make the selection for our national team. The National teams will be negatively affected.”

“Our members also suggested that this change is being proposed because of the existing rules, which have changed little since those introduced in the 1960’s. These rules do not allow Maltese players to change club at the end of their contract except against a fee (parameters system). This fee today is too high and Maltese clubs are not prepared to invest in Maltese players, so that instead they seek the services of foreign players who can join Maltese clubs as free agents. It is time that Maltese players too have the right to become free agents. The parameters system or imposed transfer fee at end of contract is both illegal and immoral!”

“Other members have suggested that foreign players are given short term contracts and if the players do not meet the club’s expectations, such players contracts are terminated earlier, with most foreigners not objecting out of fear, and the clubs allowed to sign up new out of contract players. A practice not possible in respect of Maltese players. Such a practice is clearly illegitimate and contrary to the spirit of the rules, yet it is ripe. With the current system and this proposal the Maltese players are, and will be at a disadvantage.”

“The MFPA is against this proposal and any change that undermines the sustainability of the Maltese leagues, the Football Nurseries and the National teams, and hopes that sense and good management principles will lead our clubs to reconsider their position. Also the MFPA supports the reform being put forward by the MFA and hopes that with the input of all stakeholders, we can finally move forward for the good of the Maltese football.”