The launching of the new visual identity for the Malta Football Association and the Malta national teams and the presentation and approval of the Financial Report were the main items on the agenda of the first General Assembly for 2022 of the Malta Football Association was held at the Centenary Hall, Ta’ Qali on Tuesday.
Following the statutory reform approved last year, the Association now holds three General Assemblies annually: in April (with the main item being financial reporting), July (administrative reporting and any applicable elections), and November (reporting on strategic priorities and thematic matters).
Following the approval of the Minutes of the Ordinary General Assembly which was held on November 4, MFA President Bjorn Vassallo delivered a speech during which he focussed on the difficulties faced by the association due to the pandemic and the determination to bounce back.
Vassallo said the world was currently trying to get back to normality following two years of restrictions which had a negative impact on the economy and, obviously, football was not exempt. He said that at this point a recovery plan was the driving force in order to re-establish the association’s position as it was before the pandemic.
“The Malta Football Association lost important revenue which we will now try to recover. However at the same time, the association still honoured its commitments with clubs in order to safeguard their positions in order to be able to overcome the challenges witnessed over the past two years.”
Vassallo said that unlike other associations, FIFA ended the financial year with a positive balance, increasing its cash and asset reserves. He added that this was of utmost importance for the Malta FA as thanks to guaranteed revenue from the international body. it would finance its operations, invest in technical and development projects and sustain the assistance schemes for member clubs and associations while continuing the association’s strategic work.
Unlike FIFA, UEFA was badly hit and the war complicated matters even more. However, the MFA President said he was optimistic that football would bounce back from this crisis.
The approval of the consolidated and audited Financial Statements of the Malta Football Association were next on the agenda. This financial report covered the period April-December 2021. A period during which football was halted by the COVID restrictions and then resumed. The MFA President said that the association had to abide by a rigid protocol – restrictions which were only lifted on Monday. Therefore 2021 was a repeat of 2020, suffering from the same restrictions with Malta being the only European country unable to bring the leagues to an end.
Vassallo said that the association was now focussed on bringing this year’s competitions to an end.
The MFA President said that the new statute which was approved last year brought new structures, changes in procedures and more transparency in day-to-day running of the association. He said that towards the end of the year, the Executive Board approved the estimates for 2022 and the budget was revised in the past days in order to make sure to be able to do what was planned by the end of this calendar year.
“In 2022 to enact our mission, while abiding by the COVID protocols and restrictions and honouring our international obligations in the respective competitions, the association registered a deficit for which we have already started implementing a number of measures to make up for it. The two main expenses were the travel and accommodation for the senior national team, the Under-21 side and the women’s national team, due to to the local and international COVID protocols and the actual rigid protocol here in Malta where football was considered as an event which meant that the restrictions increased work in the operations department and the organisation of the competitions in the final part of 2021. This was an added expense of around €1 million.
Vassallo added that other countries faced the same difficulties and registered losses. He said that following another difficult year in 2020, the association’s reserves have dried up and it was in a vulnerable position and now the main objective is to aim for stability in order to remove the uncertainty faced over the past two years. Vassallo said that following analysis and discussion with external auditors, the Finance Committee and the Executive Board, a financial recovery plan was prepared.
A number of measures are being implemented including a revision of the budget, the preparation of monthly liquidity reports and mid-yearly reviews to check if everything going to plan; the reclassification of hotels used by national teams and reduction in the number of bed-nights; the signing of MOUs with interested parties; mitigation of risk on competitions by introducing mechanisms which are already leaving a positive effect; a new procurement policy, the introduction of software to approve all expenses of each department where each one will have a particular budget. The association also commissioned a salary benchmarking report which will be prepared by a foreign company.
The MFA President went on to say that by taking a snapshot over the past ten years, expenses were related to strategic objectives of the association – capital projects, clubs’ infrastructure for the previous administration and now technical education and development. He revealed that over the past ten years, the Malta FA had spent over one hundred million: €54 million on domestic competitions – stadiums, clubs facilities and regional stadiums; €39 million on national teams and technical projects and €22 million on the administration – 65% of which work directly on domestic competitions.
Vassallo added that the amount spent on clubs and member associations over the past ten years confirmed the association’s policy to sustain this sector. On the other hand, over the past two years, in accordance with the new strategy, investment was focussed on technical projects and development while continuing to support clubs’ infrastructural projects, also thanks to aid by the government as following negotiations with the government, these facilities are being upgraded through public funds.
The MFA President added that he was confident that the local game, thanks to the unified philosophy, the association and the clubs would work hand in hand to produce players who are able to play on a professional level which was crucial to achieving results, which is what the public wants, after all.
“These were two years of ups and downs. But we should not forget the fact that went through two years of big changes … reforms in governance, reforms in the structure of the association.
“What we are doing is to improve the level of the game while focussing on good governance.
Going forward, we need to support each other for the good of the game,” concluded Bjorn Vassallo