Birkirkara FC vice-president Michael Valenzia is adamant that the health authorities are the only body who can decide whether the 2019-20 season can resume or not amid growing speculation that football in Malta will not return next month.

In the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about whether the Malta FA will receive the green light from the health authorities to resume the final matches from the BOV Premier League and also hold the semi-finals and final of the FA Trophy.

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At present, Birkirkara are fifth in the standings on 33 points, just four points adrift of third-placed Hibernians, who hold the second berth for Europa League football.

So far, the health authorities have made it clear that at present there exist no conditions for sport, in particular football, to resume.

In this time of uncertainty, pressure is growing from several Premier League clubs on the Malta FA to end the 2019-20 season. In fact, a vote from the Premier League Standing Committee last week saw ten top-flight clubs vote in favour to bring the season to a halt with Birkirkara one of only three who voted against the motion.

“Birkirkara FC have made its position know as from Day One, just after the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Malta and football was stopped,” Valenzia told the Times of Malta.

“We will respect every decision taken by the health authorities, but we believe that the 2019-20 season should be resumed and the championship is settled on the pitch.

“I’m very disappointed that some clubs changed their position on this subject in a matter of a few weeks, but Birkirkara FC have always been very clear on its stance.”

Valenzia said that the situation in Malta in the last few days has improved a lot, thanks mainly to the sterling job being carried out by the health authorities and he believes that football could resume towards the end of June.

“All we are asking to the authorities is that they should keep in mind that the money we earn from European football is crucial for us. Without that money some clubs will suffer a lot of damages,” Valenzia said.

“Several clubs have put European football as one of their targets. It was one of Birkirkara’s objectives and I felt that we were well on course to reach it and deserve to qualify for UEFA club competitions.

“Obviously, it’s difficult to have a clear picture after 20 matches, but before the season stopped we had played all the top-placed teams twice with the exception of Sirens so we were in a very strong position. In fact, there are teams above us who have up to four direct encounters, so we have a good chance of climbing the standings further.”

The Birkirkara vice-president said that it is disappointing that some clubs refuse to play for their own interests.

“I want to make it clear that we will only accept a decision not to play only if it is announced by the health authorities and by no one else,” Valenzia said.

“We will not accept decisions taken by the majority of clubs who just do not want to play just to honour their agendas. The health authority is the only qualified body to take such decision.

“Should the health authorities say that we cannot play, we need to be sure that when we start the 2020-21 season, the criterias they are mentioning for which football cannot be held, will also present at the time when the new campaign starts?

“Therefore, we will not be playing football until a vaccine is in the market? If it’s the case it will be 2021, so we need answers to our questions.”

“Should the health authorities say that we cannot play, we need to be sure that when we start the 2020-21 season, the criterias they are mentioning for which football cannot be held, will also present at the time when the new campaign starts?- Michael Valenzia

One possible scenario that has been put forward in these days has been the possibility of holding play-offs to decide the European places and Valenzia said that Birkirkara will be ready to be play this format should the MFA puts forward this proposal.

“However, unfortunately I doubt it whether other clubs will accept as they are rejecting even other good ideas,” Valenzia added.   

“At the moment there is great animosity between club representatives who hold different views on the subject. The MFA has until May 25 to inform UEFA on how the season will unfold in Malta but a huge number of clubs want a decision to be made this week.

“Their argument is quite absurd as they are contending that a decision has to be made this week so that if football is stopped their overseas player can book one of the repatriation flights in Malta which will finish by May 10.

“If that is really the case, I have no doubt that the MFA would find no problem in speaking with the authorities to extend that deadline by at least two or three weeks.”

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