MFA President says governance reforms will lead to sustainability

One year after being elected to the post of MFA President, Bjorn Vassallo explained the on-going governance reform process which encompasses club licensing, ethics, revision of the association’s statute and corporate restructuring.

A number of committees were set-up last year focussing on the different areas. The project lead is MFA Vice-President Dr Matthew Paris while Dr Peter Fenech is in charge of the licensing, Dr Dawn Aquilina in charge of the strategy of the asssociation, Dr Stefan Buontempo Ethics and Integrity and Dr Samuel Azzopardi the reform of the statute.

Photo: Copyright Joe Borg

Bjorn Vassallo said that for the sustainability of football, the two crucial aspects were good governance and financial stability. Good governance with good practices which improve the standards and financial stability which seeks a balance between income and expenditure together with long-term investment.

The MFA President said that only in this way clubs could become sustainable and financially sound. He added that the association already went through a number of reforms, including the Financial Fair Play, the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, the change from manual to online and is now looking forward to other important reforms.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the association was fully focussed on completing these reforms which include that of making a distinction between the elite and amateur football.

Dr Matthew Paris will be leading this extensive reform, spanning over two and a half years.

The Malta FA is in the process of adopting its first strategy for Maltese football on the basis of the plan ‘Vision 2027’ and the recently launched UEFA’s Football Federations of the Future strategic framework.

The strategic goals, key priorities and implementation scheduling for the Malta FA were defined. In addition, the resource requirements associated with each objective were considered.

This initiative is taking place in the context of the mentoring process within the UEFA GROW programme.

Dr Matthew Paris said the reform in the association governance will focus on Ethics & Integrity, the Statute and Procurement while the reform in clubs’ governance will focus on Licensing, Competitions and Corporate Restructuring.

Restructuring of the National League

Dr Paris said that one of the targets of the corporate restructuring is to create a football pyramid, rather the actual rectangular structure there was for a number of years where the teams in the various divisions was more or less the same.

The Clubs’ status has been revised based on the respective divisions and only clubs in the Premier League will be allowed to have a professional status. Clubs in the Challenge League (former First Division League) should only be allowed a semi-professional status. This will lead to restricted number of football teams playing top-level football.

The remaining number of clubs, which sportingly competed in the Second and Third Divisions, will only be allowed to register with an amateur status in the newly established National Amateur League.

Corporate Restructuring

Thanks to this reform, recreational clubs (clubs competing in member associations) would be constituted as sports entities, clubs in the National Amateur League (the current Second and Third Divisions) would be constituted as sports foundations or recreational sports entities while clubs in the Challenge League (the current First Division) and the Premier League would be constituted as limited liability companies (or sports limited companies). This process should take place by no later than January 2023.

All clubs promoted/relegated to a new division, unless they satisfy the structure requirement, are to ensure mutation into the required entity within two (2) seasons.

The proposed taxation status for a Sports Limited Company would be of an annual corporate tax equivalent to 7.5% on gross profit. Sports foundations and recreational sports entities shall be tax exempt.

Other schemes being proposed include the Premier League Player Guarantee Fund – an amount equalivalent to a month’s salary to be deposited in the beginning of the season and the creation of a company with clubs as shareholders to deal with football leagues’ social media, letting/car leasing, e-commerce and e-retail.

This should not replace any master plan developed in-house by a club but aims to stimulate the clubs towards implementing their very own developed recovery plan.

Code of Ethics

Dr Stefan Buontempo said the Ethics and Integrity committee will oversee any conduct that damages the integrity and reputation of football and in particular to illegal, immoral and unethical behavior. It will be compiling a Code of Ethics for Internal Staff and External Stakeholders and a Conflict of Interest Policy.

Statute Reform

MFA General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti explained that the Statute Reform Committee has been created responsible for revising and modernising the Malta FA’s Statute and decision-making processes.

  • Term and/or age limit for President and Executive Committee/Board members
  • Checks and balances system to be in place
  • Balanced gender representation on the Executive Committee/Board
  • Statutory definition of members’ rights and obligations in line with FIFA/UEFA standards
  • Clear indication of responsibilities and decision-making bodies
  • Provisions related to ethics
  • Definition of roles and powers of the President, Executive Committee/Board and administrative body
  • Clear rules on congress authority, agenda, elections, decision-making and minutes in line with FIFA/UEFA standards

Procurement Policy

The purpose and scope of the Procurement Policy and Procedures is to structure MFA’s purchasing processes and sourcing strategies to ensure that the services and goods we acquire are the result of transparent, objective, time and cost-effective decision making and risk management.

The Policy is a commitment to continuous and performance-driven improvement and benchmarking. The Procurement Policy will apply to all MFA staff, managers, directors, and officers as well as any agents for MFA seeking to acquire, acquiring and/or managing ongoing contractual relationships for the provision of services and/or goods to or on behalf of the Association.

Club Licensing Reform

The development of football plays an important role in the wider development of men’s and women’s game. The broadening of the licensing criteria is a significant step in the development of the licensing system.

It is very important for clubs – professional or amateur (community based) – to commit to minimum standards in key areas such as:

  • Youth Development
  • Infrastructure
  • Administrative Structures
  • Financial Parameters
  • Legal Criteria

This reform will ensure fairer competitions, financial discipline and long-term stability.

Dr Peter Fenech explained that there should be an ownership by the general public and all stakeholders in this reform and for this reason, there will be a survey for the general public and sixteen technical surveys for stakeholders, including the internal structures of the MFA, coaches, players – present and retired, clubs, nurseries, council members, referees, women, Gozo, media, sponsors, the government, the opposition and government institutions.

He said discussions will follow with UEFA, FIFA and the internal structures of the MFA and also the government as the objective is to have a report which could be implemented.