The Malta Football Association’s Return To Play Protocol, applicable for the 2020/21 BOV Premier League and BOV Challenge League, has been approved by the local health authorities. The rigorous protocol contains some updates from the initial document presented on 26th August following further consultations with Professor Charmaine Gauci, the Superintendent of Health.
The latest developments from the on-going meetings with the health authorities on COVID-19 protocols and related matters were discussed at a meeting of the Malta FA Executive Committee yesterday.
The key medical and prevention principles of the updated protocol include:
• Testing of a representative sample of clubs’ players and staff on a regular basis
• Management of positive cases – individual isolates; effective assessment to determine exposure of close contacts who would need to quarantine for 14 days (the mandatory period established by the health authorities); rest of the squad to swab and continue training if tested negative.
• Hygiene principles – stadium zoning, limited use of dressing rooms, matches without spectators (until further notice), social distancing and use of masks at all times (except on pitch), temperature checks at stadium entrance, and sanitisation of dressing room and restricted areas between matches
The Malta FA has also issued a health protocol for amateur and grassroots football with the competitions in these categories, including the BOV National Amateur League, planned to start in October.
Based on this situation and the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Malta FA Executive Committee has approved a set of special regulations applicable to the BOV Premier League and BOV Challenge League.
• Clubs are required to submit a squad list of a minimum of 25 players.
• A competitive match can only be postponed if a team doesn’t have a minimum of 16 players, including two goalkeepers, available from the squad list who are tested negative.
• Extension of five substitutions in all categories (three substitution time windows, teams may additionally make substitutions at half-time).
• Where a player, coach, club staff member or club committee member tests positive for COVID-19, or is otherwise ordered by the national health authorities to self-isolate, the person is obliged to disclose the matter to the club. Failure to do so constitutes an offence.
The fixtures of the opening three matchdays of the 2020/21 BOV Premier League and the first two programmes of the BOV Challenge League have been issued.
Given the fluctuating situation due to COVID-19, the Malta FA Football Operations Department has published the domestic fixtures leading up to the October international window. The BOV Premier League gets underway on September 19 and the BOV Challenge League (formerly the First Division) starts on September 25. Matches are to be played behind closed doors until further notice.
The first match will kick off at 17.00hrs and the second at 21.15hrs to allow sufficient time for the sanitisation of the dressing rooms and restricted areas between matches. Matchday two of the BOV Premier League will take place from September 25-27 and matchday three from September 30-October 1.
From this season, non-televised BOV Premier League matches – initially those being played behind closed doors – will be streamed live on a dedicated digital platform. Remote cameras have been installed at four stadia – the National Stadium, the Centenary Stadium, Hibernians Stadium and Victor Tedesco Stadium.