Former Malta coach John Buttigieg and his assistant Carmel Busuttil are disputing claims by the Malta FA that they breached the association’s regulations after filing a judicial protest against the local governing body of football last month.

Last week, the Malta FA council suspended Buttigieg and Busuttil indefinitely after ruling that the two coaches’ decision to lodge a judicial protest was in breach of its statute which prohibits members of the football family from taking legal action against the association.

Buttigieg and Busuttil had presented a judicial protest against their dismissal and called on the MFA to pay them half their wages until the end of their contract which was due to expire in June 2014.

In his letter to the MFA, Ian Spiteri Bailey, the lawyer of Buttigieg and Busuttil, challenged the MFA’s interpretation of article 155 of its statute, saying that “a judicial protest is a form of intimation made under the court’s authority but is not a legal procedure in terms of a lawsuit as stipulated in the statute”.

Dr Spiteri Bailey said that Buttigieg and Busuttil didn’t initiate any legal proceedings against the MFA when submitting their judicial protest but took legitimate steps to safeguard their rights.

Any dispute relating to the suspension of the coaching licences of Buttigieg and Busuttil shouldn’t, in any way, impinge on the MFA’s obligations to settle the compensation payment to the two coaches, Dr Spiteri Bailey said.

Dr Spiteri Bailey pointed out that the case between the former coaches of the national team and the Malta FA is an employment-related issue and not a football one. Therefore, he added, the interpretation of the statute is inapplicable.

As the Malta FA have honoured their obligations in signing the agreement over the termination of the contracts of Buttigieg and Busuttil, the effects of the judicial protest today “have not only died a natural death but this materialised because the MFA took action to regularise its position,” Dr Spiteri Bailey wrote.

Dr Spiteri Bailey said that Buttigieg and Busuttil were denied the right to a fair hearing when the MFA decided to suspend them.

He called on the MFA to fulfil their financial obligations to Buttigieg and Busuttil and that, with immediate effect, proceed to revoke the “wrongful and illicit suspension” imposed on the two coaches.

Furthermore, Dr Spiteri Bailey urged the MFA to pay damages to the two coaches stemming from their suspension by the same association.

“It’s indeed a pity that two important elements of Maltese football have been treated in such manner, after many years of service they’ve given to local football as players for their clubs and the national team and finally as coaches of the national team,” Dr Spiteri Bailey said.

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