The football season is set to be once again prematurely terminated after the government failed to lift the ban on organised sport, at least until April 26, despite releasing several of the measures which were announced last month. The issue will be discussed during a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Malta Football Association on Friday.
All sports competitions, including competitions organised by the Malta Football Association, Youth FA and Gozo FA, came to an abrupt halt on March 11 following the government’s decision that all organised sport would be suspended until April 11 due to record number of COVID-19 cases.
On Monday, the Malta Football Association, together with the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta and the Malta Basketball Association renewed their appeal to the Government and health authorities to allow the return of competitive sport, albeit in a gradual way. The three Associations emphasised that the priority is to be given to senior level rather than junior or amateur competitions, which involve a much larger number of participants.
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo had stressed that “Malta is the only country where all sport, including the elite level, has been stopped. This is the professional level which represents the livelihood of many players and technical staff. Furthermore, this prolonged period of inactivity will impact fitness and technical levels both at club level, where our clubs will in a couple of months’ time compete on the European stage, as well as the National Team, which has important international commitments in the windows of June and September”.
Malta national coach Devis Mangia had earlier complained about this issue in view of a possible training camp in June and the next European Qualifiers in programme in September.
However this decision means that with clubs being unable to resume training, it would not be possible to complete the football season, at least at elite level, within the deadline imposed by UEFA. The names of the clubs participating in UEFA competitions have to be submitted by the first week of June.
In August, the Council had approved an amendment to Section VII – Rules Governing Competitions with regards to leagues being terminated due to force majeure. According to this amendment, in case of a league which is terminated after clubs have played 75% of the matches, the classification shall be deemed final. If not, the league would be declared abandoned with no promotions or relegations.
Since Premier League clubs have played twenty three out of the scheduled thirty matches, Hamrun Spartans would be declared champions while Hibernians, Gzira United and Birkirkara would take the three spots in the new UEFA Europa Conference League.
On the other hand, Zejtun Corinthians, Tarxien Rainbows and Lija Athletic, along with Senglea Athletic, who had already been relegated, would be demoted to the Challenge League.
The situation is different in the Challenge League as only twelve of the fifteen clubs played three fourths of their matches. Therefore the league would be declared abandoned and therefore no teams would be promoted to the Premier League.
This would lead to a situation where the BOV Premier League 2021/22 would be contested by just twelve teams while the number of teams in the BOV Challenge League would increase considerably with the four teams relegated from the Premier League and the four teams promoted from the BOV National Amateur League, namely Luqa St. Andrew’s, Mgarr United, Melita and Rabat Ajax.