Malta FA, stakeholders continue talks on COVID-19 challenges

The decisions and directives announced by UEFA earlier this week concerning the impact COVID-19 is having on football and the diverse scenarios to try and address the fixture pile-up caused by this disruption were discussed during a video-conference meeting the Malta Football Association Bureau had with the stakeholders in local football.

While reiterating that public health is the foremost priority, Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo said after the meeting that there is a collective commitment to try and complete the football season.

“First and foremost, our thoughts are with all those affected by COVID-19,” Vassallo said in a video message. “I urge everyone to heed the advice and instructions given by the health authorities because public health is the no.1 priority.

“In the meantime, the Malta FA has hosted a videoconference meeting with the stakeholders in domestic football. We shared the information we received from UEFA about the important resolution signed by UEFA on behalf of the 55 National Associations, together with the European Leagues, European Club Association and FIFPRO. This resolution lays out decisions based on important principles due to the extraordinary moment we are in.

“These include the postponement of international events with EURO 2020 postponed by one year, and all the international matches scheduled for March which have been moved to June, a decision that also affects our national teams.

DOMESTIC FOOTBALL CALENDAR

“We also spoke about the domestic calendar. To this end, there is a collective commitment to complete the season within the timeline indicated by UEFA according to the first proposed scenario.

“We put on the table an action plan so that, in the event that the health authorities give us the direction that football can resume, either behind closed doors or with spectators, we will be prepared. If this were to happen, we would be able to complete the season and have final classifications that determine a winner, the clubs that qualify for the European competitions, and, in all the divisions, the promoted and relegated teams.

“On the other hand, if this scenario were not to materialise, UEFA has set up a working group to study different scenarios that extend into the new season, 2020-21.”

ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND REGULATORY IMPACT

Vassallo said that UEFA has set up a second working group to assess the economic, financial and regulatory impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and propose measures to help mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.

“UEFA has set up another working group to examine the regulatory aspect which, in our opinion, is very important,” the Malta FA President said.

“This falls under FIFA’s responsibility in so far as the discussions on the RSTP (Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players) are concerned. We will be getting direction based on these discussions as this is a situation that impacts all clubs in Europe. They employ players, staff and coaches and these can’t report for work at the moment because football is virtually suspended across Europe.

SUSPENSION OF FOOTBALL AND FUTSAL COMPETITIONS

“The members of the Malta FA Bureau have also met a number of times over the past few days and took a number of decisions, including the suspension of all domestic football and futsal competitions. In view of this, we will be revising the dates when the competitions can resume based on the on-going discussions with the health authorities.

“We have also decided to extend the licensing period for Maltese clubs, moving the extraordinary general meetings scheduled for the March and April to the May-June period.

“Furthermore, we have temporarily suspended the CPD requirements for coaches to renew their licence for season 2020-21.”

GOVERNMENT AID MEASURES

“We also discussed the financial aid measures announced by the government earlier this week,” Vassallo added. “Football, like any other activity, has been hit by this crisis and we therefore need to evaluate the situation, also in view of the fact that domestic football largely depends on individual sponsorships rather than commercial revenues. Once we have a report in hand that quantifies the financial impact, we will present it to the authorities.”

Vassallo added that, going forward, employment and financial matters will be addressed by the Social Dialogue Committee which brings together representatives of clubs and other stakeholders.

“The Social Dialogue Committee will discuss industrial relations, between employer and employee, and in this forum we can identify important solutions about the sustainability of our clubs and their employees in the current situation,” Vassallo said.

“We will be looking at leave, cost-cutting, revenue losses which are impacting the cash flows and the collective bargaining agreement. We have already seen that some clubs in Europe are taking steps to address this but we will wait for UEFA’s direction based on the proposals of their working group and our discussions.

“As President of the Malta Football Association, I’m convinced that we will have a positive discussion as all the discussions we’ve had on important football matters in recent years have been mature and led to win-win situations.

“I urge everyone to use this as an opportunity to emerge from this situation stronger together so that when football gets the go-ahead to resume, we can start and restore the enthusiasm that sports, in our case football, elicits for the general public.” 

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