A referee who had received a lifetime ban for having acted as an agent for a local football club has had the ban reduced to three years.

Jude Utulu had been banned following Malta Football Association proceedings after he had refereed a game between Mosta FC and Balzan, which Mosta lost.

The complaint had been filed by Adrian Zammit, who was listed with the MFA as one of Mosta FC’s sponsors, and who maintained that Mr Utulu should not have officiated the game because he was an agent for Mosta FC itself.

The appeals board found that Mr Utulu had been approached by Mr Farrugia back in 2015, who asked him to help him find a Nigerian player who might be interested in playing locally.

Mr Utulu had put him in touch with his brother’s manager, and had again directed Mr Farrugia to that manager in 2017, when Mr Farrugia had approached him with a similar request.

In its conclusions, the board noted that the referee observation report drawn up by an MFA official during the Mosta vs Balzan match had concluded that Mr Utulu had officiated well and given him an 8.3 out of 10 score.

The board concluded that Mr Utulu should have disclosed his interactions with Mr Farrugia to the officer in charge of appointing referees and to the chairman of the Referee’s Board.

However, the lifetime ban was considered highly exaggerated and inappropriate given the circumstances and was therefore substituted for a three-year ban.

Lawyer Joseph Giglio appeared for Mr Utulu.