Malta FA, Malta Premier League sign joint-venture agreement

The signing of an agreement for the creation of a joint-venture between the Malta Football Association and the Malta Premier League was signed at the Tony Bezzina Stadium on Tuesday.

The establishment of a league entity to manage the Premier League was one of the highlights in the strategy for Maltese football embarked by the Malta Football Association for the four-year term ending next year, 2024. Therefore the creation of a joint venture between the Malta FA and the MPL, shows the commitment both entities have towards modernising and upgrading domestic elite club football in Malta. This partnership consolidates this collaboration with unprecedented responsibility entrusted to the Malta Premier League which will be able to engage directly in commercial activity in the context of branding, sponsorship, and marketing rights of the league.

Apart from the organisation of the competition, this project has other objectives, which evolve around revamping the composition and format of the Premier League and enhancing fan engagement.

Addressing those present, Malta FA President Bjorn Vassallo said “This is an important moment for local football since for the first time, the Malta FA will be entering a partnership with the association representing the Premier League and whose members are the clubs participating in the elite competition.”

“Between the first league in season 1909/10 and the forthcoming season, one hundred and fifteen years would have passed. Ahead of us is an opportunity thanks to which the Premier League, the participating clubs and those who follow it could gain from this joint-venture.”

“The idea behind all this is the decentralisation of a number of activities by the Malta FA which traditionally have always been taken care of by the association. Times changed and these require strategic decisions thanks to which the game could evolve, not only in sporting terms but also exposure and commercial terms.”

Vassallo spoke about the arguments club presidents used to have with some of his predecessors especially with regards to commercial rights in the past, adding that now it is up to the MPL and Premier League clubs to take the decisions for which they would have to shoulder the responsibilities.

“We need to change to offer a better product to the thousands of fans who follow the game and expect from the MFA, MPL and clubs a competitive league and one of a better quality.”

He said that for small countries, the biggest difficulty was always that of limited resources.

“With a commercialisation plan and marketing concepts that would maximise profits, this new model should lead to greater financial sustainability which would give the peace of mind and motivation to presidents and club administrators to invest in this sector.”

“Although we hear about a lot of negativity on the game in Malta, even from those who should educate people about it, football offers the country a lot in terms of development and social return on investment. These initiatives should be supported by authorities, private entities and the community.”

“For this reason, we made sure we put in place serious regulations with regards to good governance so that after this first step, the next would be for the big clubs in Malta to be able to transform themselves in commercial entities, like it is the case in other countries.”

The Malta FA President finally thanked the presidents of the Premier League clubs together with Vice-President Dr Matthew Paris and General Secretary Dr Angelo Chetcuti on behalf of the Malta FA and Dr Joseph Muscat and Alan Abela on behalf of the MPL.

Malta Premier League chairman Dr Joseph Muscat said that the signing of this agreement was a step closer to the modernisation of clubs and the Premier League. Dr Muscat said this was part of the mandate Vassallo was given when elected as president of the Malta FA – the detachment of the Premier League from the Malta FA and the running of the league as an autonomous entity.

“We opted for a hybrid system and thanks to this joint-venture we will start from the over hundred years of experience and inject entrapranerial energy in order to make league more attractive, therefore luring more people to the stadiums and to follow on TV.”

“We aim at a more competitive league … more balanced competition which create more interest. We aim at a league which is self sutstainable and ideally generates income for clubs whcih could helpp kickstart projets, whcih are necessary for the game, not only in terms of marketing and management, such as the introduction of VAR.”

Dr Muscat stressed that one cannot have a league which aims at being professional without the introduction of some sort of VAR system.

“These are no easy targets. We will not be arrogant and try to do everything from day one. Next season should be a learning curve for all of us at the MPL and this joint-venture, starting from the logistics aspect. Then we will implement further changes which should improve the level of the game.”

Dr Muscat said that the Malta Premier League had already started pitching in innovative ideas such as the scheme which rewards clubs for using young talent and said that although there was an increase in the number of foreigners who are allowed on the pitch, clubs are making good use of local talent.

The MPL chairman went on to speak about the ideas meant to improve the level of local clubs taking part in European competitions, the league becoming more sustainable,

Dr Muscat thanked the present fourteen Premier League clubs and those who formed part of the Premier League last season. He said that clubs took difficult decisions, especially the one to reduce the number of teams and eventually the decision on the format of the Premier League which should make it more attractive.

The commitment between the Malta FA and the MPL will see them jointly manage a newly established company which will organise the Premier League for five consecutive football seasons starting from 2024/25. The project is expected to create more and better opportunities, especially in terms of exposure in-line with the Malta FA’s plan to raise the standards of the league in favour of a dedicated and focused entity.

The Malta Premier League, the entity representing Premier League Clubs, was officially established in August of last year, building on its earlier version, the Malta Professional Football Clubs Association. In October 2022, it was recognised by the Malta FA’s Executive Board as the organisation representing clubs playing in the highest tier of the National Championship. In November 2022, the MPL became an official affiliate of the European Leagues (EL), the organisation that brings together the professional football leagues in Europe.

Since then, the MPL was engaged in constant dialogue with the Malta FA, to implement this strategic project with a view to delivering a more attractive, competitive, and sustainable Premier League.

This joint-venture agreement between both entities builds on the allocation of competences are the Governance, Club Licensing, Player Status and the Disciplinary process remains under the full remit of the Malta FA, whereas the Commercial, Branding and other Marketing rights will be entrusted completely to the MPL.

Sporting Regulatory matters such as composition and format, match calendar and football operations, will be shared competences where both entities share equal responsibilities.

The Malta FA will receive no paid-out financial dividend from the league, although a segmented yearly subvention will continue to be distributed to the league to support the league with organisational costs. The Malta FA will also focus on the oversight and needed compliance to ensure the highest standards in accountability, transparency, and integrity.

A Chairperson and two Directors from each side shall be appointed as part of the Board of Directors of the company that will be created to manage the project. The MFA President and the MPL Chairman will both sit on the Board of Directors as ex-officio members,