New calendar and change in format with introduction of play-offs and play-outs among proposals being considered by Malta Premier League

The Malta Premier League is planning to take over the organisation of the league as from 2024/25 and is considering a number of proposals for the calendar, the format and the number of home-grown and foreign players. This was revealed during a consultation meeting with a number of stakeholders which was held at the Centenary Hall on Thursday.

Malta Premier League chairman Dr Joseph Muscat explained some of the objectives of the organisation, stressing on the need to help clubs become financially sustainable.

The Malta Premier League aims to be the sole representative of the Premier League clubs and organise independently the top flight championship. The MPL aims to make the competition more attractive, therefore attracting more fans to the stadia, and financially viable, also by exploiting TV, live streaming and marketing rights.

With regards to the number of teams in the Premier League, the proposals are two – either retaining the current number of fourteen or move back to twelve teams.

The calendar is one of the proposals which could raise discussions and controversy as a new calendar with league fixtures starting from February and ending in November is being proposed in contrast with the current calendar which sees the Premier League starting in August and ending in April/May.

With regards to this proposal of a new calendar running from February to November, Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo said that an impact assessment would have to be carried out, not only to see the benefits and disadvantages but also due to the fact that such a calendar would impact all other competitions who would have to start at the same time due to promotions and relegations.

Linked with this proposal of a new calendar is the transition to such a calendar – one option being a four-month competition between Premier League clubs to determine European placing, with no relegation; the other being an immediate transition with a four-month competition and which would also include Challenge League teams.

As regards the league format, three proposals are being put forward: a league played on three rounds; a league played in two phases – two rounds in the first phase and a Championship and a Relegation Pool also based on two rounds and a league played in two phases – two rounds in the first phase followed by play-offs and play-outs.

Meanwhile with regards to the number of homegrown and foreign players, one proposal states that there would be no limit on EU nationals, a maximum of nine non-EU players on the pitch but no limit on the registration of non-EU nationals and a minimum number of minutes to be played by homegrown players per season. Attached to this proposal is the fact that teams playing homegrown players more than the minimum number of minutes would be compensated financially while others which do not would have points deducted the following season.

The other proposal states that there would be no limit on either EU or non-EU nationals but there would be a minimum number of minutes to be played by homegrown players per season.

Another proposal being put forward by the Malta Premier League is the introduction of solidarity mechanisms from the UEFA solidarity payments which is set to increase to double to €1.1 million.