Limited number of fans could return to stadiums in coming months

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo revealed that a limited number of fans could be allowed in stadiums in the near future if proposals are accepted by health authorities.

Bjorn Vassallo said the current protocol allows for a maximum of 200 persons in case of non-televised matches and 220 in case of live televised matches. This number includes the players and technical staff, club officials, match officials, stadium personnel, police officers and media.

The next step is that as from mid-October, the association will propose to health authorities the possibility of allowing another pool of people related to the game such as coaches and officials of other clubs, to be able to enter and then the third step would be to admit fans on the basis of club loyalty. All this with the adoption of rules of social-distancing.

The number of fans to be allowed would be only a percentage related to the stadium capacity.

Due to the cleaning and sanitisation of the stadiums, there would still be over a two hour gap between one game and another. As from mid-October, matches in senior leagues will kick-off at 15:00 and 19:15 and as from November at 14:00 and 18:15.

The MFA President said that thanks to discussions with health authorities, the MFA Return to Play protocol was agreed. Thanks to this, in cases of medium and low risk, such as the one involving a Challenge League club last week where one player tested positive, only four players went into mandatory quarantine. Otherwise with a blanket approach, the full squad would have ended into quarantine.

Vassallo said the regulations which were approved aim at limiting the postponement of matches as each club should prepare a squad list and by having at least sixteen players, including two goalkeepers, any match would be able to go ahead. Sanctions in case of infringement of these regulations include the loss of a game and reduction of points.

With regards to the live streaming of Premier League matches, Bjorn Vassallo said that further testing is being carried out on the cameras. He admitted that the product during the first two games was not that expected but things improved on the second day. Despite the fact that three matches were broadcast live on TSN and TVM2, there were 25,000 who accessed the service. A clear sign of the thirst for football, the local fans have.

The MFA President concluded by saying that all in all, the association was satisfied after match day 1 with how things worked out. There were things which were discussed during Wednesday’s MFA Council meeting after clubs drew the attention and which could be improved. Vassallo said there is good coordination between the association, clubs and health authorities led by Prof Charmaine Gauci and her team. He said that everything is being done as planned and although the domestic campaign is still in its beginning, the preparation involved means that things are moving quite smoothly. He finally thanked the health authorities for their support and trust.