Increased opportunities for a fan base for clubs, improved gate income receipts for clubs, a review of the calendar and format for the BOV Premier League and an income redistribution model based on the principle of solidarity are the main objectives of the Premier League business model being proposed by MFA president Norman Darmanin Demajo. Darmanin Demajo gave more details about the proposals during a press conference at the Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali on Tuesday.
The MFA President said discussions with the Premier Division Clubs Standing Committee started in July and then continued in November, December and February.
Darmanin Demajo said that the major issues discussed included the introduction of a season ticket – either a ticket covering the matches of one particular team or a ticket for all matches; the cost of the season ticket, the revision of match-day ticket prices; authorised sellers for tickets; a review of the Premier League format and a revised gate income distribution model.
The MFA President said that among the main conclusions from the meeting with the PDCSC, the season tickets would be introduced as from season 2016/17 with the season tickets covering all Premier League matches, and not just the matches of one particular club, and possible including FA Trophy matches and international friendly matches.
Season ticket can be shared, transferred or co-owned. These would be sold by Premier League clubs.
All match-day ticket booth income will go to a pool. After the deduction of match-day expenses, the resultant balance will be divided equally among the clubs. Season tickets will also include the pool element, Football Social Responsibility, IT Licensing and MFA administrative costs.
The suggested price for season tickets, starting from season 2016/17 will be of €230. There will be no VIP season tickets. The price of match-day tickets will increase from €7 to €10 or €12 and from €4 to €5 for Kartanzjan holders. The price increase is meant to encourage people to buy season tickets. The Family Stand will remain open for families and nurseries.
As regards the Premier League format, Norman Darmanin quoted one of the founder members of the Premier League, Peter Kenyon, who said that the right size for the Premier League would be to fill up all available weekends, taking account of the international calendar; not have more than two rounds and top-team clashes should not happen more than twice.
The MFA is suggesting a Premier League made up of fourteen teams playing on a two-round basis with no division of points. There will be seven matches each weekend playing on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays playing at three venues – National Stadium, Hibernians Stadium and Victor Tedesco Stadium.
The Premier League would kick-off in the second weekend of September, just after the international dates and would come to an end in April with the FA Trophy semi-finals and final being played in May. There would be no matches in the Christmas period and there would be no mid-week matches. Darmanin Demajo said mid-week matches always posed logistical problems for all. Another option would be to start in mid-August.
Darmanin Demajo said that an increase of the number of teams would make the league more competitive at every tier where there are usually four to six teams challenging for honours, four mid-table teams and six to four teams fighting to avoid the relegation spots. He said that the introduction of the seven foreigners per team rule has reduced the gap between top and bottom teams.
The MFA president stressed that the increase in number of finalists in the EURO and the UEFA Champions League resulted in significant increases in income and participation bonuses. He said the larger the number of teams the greater chance of attracting more spectators from all parts of the island. He went on to ask what was wrong with allowing more clubs to enjoy a season or two in the Premier League while providing more opportunity to have Maltese players playing in the top division. Darmanin Demajo said that the recent proposed law on commercialisation of sports facilities could attract new investment and business interests who will be more willing to invest if a particular team could compete at the highest level.
As regards ticket-prices, the MFA president said that for holders of season tickets, one would be paying just €2.95 per match-day if attending for the three match-days every week; €4.42 per match-day if attending for two match-days every weekend and €8.84 if attending for one match-day per weekend.
Darmanin Demajo said this business model provides for increases in all income generated by Premier Clubs but is also dependent on the clubs’ ability to sell season tickets to their supporters. He revealed that if among them, clubs manage to sell 2,000 season tickets, the amount generated would be eight times as much as current income
The MFA President concluded by saying that the top fixture games will be played at Ta’ Qali and for this reason, the MFA will further invest in Ta’ Qali to make it an attractive weekend destination. Apart from the new surface for the pitch at the National Stadium, there will be Platinum Seats and improved hospitality at the Millennium Stand D and E which could host up to 470 spectators.