Naxxar Lions unveil new president, new manager

Canada-based Syrian businessman Yahya Kirdi will be appointed as new president of Naxxar Lions FC following the resignation of Fabrizio Giglio earlier this week. Kirdi was in the news seven years ago when he was involved in the potential takeover of Liverpool Football Club.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, former Naxxar Lions president Michael Zammit Tabona said that he had received a phone call from former Manchester United and Newcastle United player David McCreery, who had also starred for Naxxar in a friendly match against Man Utd in 1987, told him that Kirdi was interested in investing in a club and thought about Naxxar. Zammit Tabona, who was no longer involved in the club discusses the issue with the current administration of Naxxar who accepted.

Zammit Tabona said that they thought, Yahya Kirdi could be the ideal person to take the club forward. He said that after the government granted the club a piece of land on which they could build a stadium, Naxxar Lions aim to build a state-of-the-art complex that will include accommodation, restaurants, bars, gym, indoor pool and top quality football training facilities. The contract with the government for this piece of land in Gharghur, opposite the VC Service Station and McDonalds, will be signed shortly.

The former Naxxar president, who had served for around two decades, leading the club from the Third Division to the Premier League, said that the fact that clubs have no income, they were very difficult to run but with such a project, Naxxar Lions could become a professional team.

Yahya Kirdi said he chose Naxxar Lions as he wanted a club in a top division in Europe. He said that after visiting Malta, he believes that the country is ideal to work in and is looking forward to investing in the club.

When asked about reports which linked him to other clubs, Yahya Kirdi said that he was involved in negotiations with three clubs and had actually made a bid for Liverpool. However he insisted that that was the past and that now his focus was on Naxxar Lions.

Kirdi spoke of the importance of having a good strategy for the club by not focussing solely on business but also on the team. He said that the first objective for the club is that of retaining Premier League status. For the time being, Naxxar will rely mainly on their local players, especially due to the fact that the Summer transfer window closes on Thursday. However the squad will be strengthened in the January transfer window.

Meanwhile Stuart Watkiss was unveiled as the club’s Technical Director.

Watkiss said that his short term objective would be that of improving the team. He said he is well aware that the local players form the backbone of the team and hence play a pivotal role and after the end of the transfer window, he will still be on the look-out for players who are out-of-contract who could still strengthen the squad.

He added that the fact that he coached at all levels with teams and players with different abilities in the UK, gave him the necessary knowledge and experience for the development of the club. In fact Stuart Watkiss coached Mansfield Town and Kidderminster Harriers, was assistant coach at Grimsby Town, Hull City and Stockport County and following a spell as coach of Bharat FC in India, he returned to Grimsby as Under-18 Professional Development Coach.

Stuart Watkiss said that at this stage he is looking forward to meet the players and wanted to create an environment where the players are eager to train and work hard while enjoying themselves. He concluded by saying that he was grateful for being offered this opportunity and experience in Maltese football and will be working hard to make sure the club improves in terms of results.