Sliema Wanderers players were forced to "fight poverty" after the Premier League club’s top hierarchy stopped paying their wages, coach Andrea Pisanu told journalists on Thursday.
The Sliema players also spoke of their desperation just a day after club president Jeffrey Farrugia handed in his resignation to the Malta Football Association, following weeks of turmoil at Malta’s most successful Premier League club.
In the last few weeks, the club was accused by the Malta Football Players Association of being “gravely in breach of its contractual obligation to its players and coaching staff, due to numerous outstanding salaries”.
The MFPA had already revealed the struggles of some of the Sliema players, with some full-time players "literally struggling to feed themselves and their families".
More details of the struggles that the Sliema players are passing through were given by club captain Mark Scerri who said that all promises made to the players by the club’s administration were not honoured.
“We had certain players who struggled financially and we are talking about players who didn’t have money for food, for fuel, or no money to send back home as there are a lot of players here who have families abroad so the financial struggle was real,” Scerri said.
“A lot of promises were made to us but never materialised. I would like to give credit to the team which has always put the struggles to one side and always gave their 100 per cent. The performances were good, even if some results lately were not ideal.”
Coach Pisanu heaped praise on his players for battling the situation but doing everything they could to help other team-mates who struggled with buying basic necessities.
“When we started here we were just a team and then we became a group,” Pisanu said.
“Then the problem started, the money was not here. Then the problems continued and we became a family.
“Some players buy vouchers, some go to the shopping centre to buy food, others put in fuel on the car, organise dinners for each other like a family and a community. This is what we are doing. And these guys deserve all the credit.”
Pisanu said that despite the problems, the players are committed to continuing to work hard and are determined to reach the objectives they set at the start of the season.
“We are continuing to doing our work fully committed and we try in the end to reach our target. We still think that someone loves this club and it’s time to show this love for the club for these players who work hard every single day.
Sliema Wanderers issued a statement on Wednesday to announce they had accepted Farrugia’s resignation and that they are working hard to solve the situation.
Sliema Wanderers are sponsored by the Catco Group which, during the Dar tal-Providenza's fundraising campaign on January 1, pledged a donation of €500,000 to the home.
The pledge was presented by former PN leader Adrian Delia who said he had turned his sights on achieving a “long-term sustainable charitable foundation” to support Id-Dar tal-Providenza.
The home has requested further documentation about the pledge.