The Malta FA has assured clubs that it will honour its financial commitments for the current domestic season as the local governing body looks to alleviate the economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the media during a videoconference, MFA president Bjorn Vassallo said that his organisation has already assured clubs that they will be receiving the financial guarantees that they were due for season 2019-20.

“The Malta FA has already made it clear to the clubs that it plans to honour all the guarantees it has agreed with the clubs for this season,” Vassallo said.

“The main source of income for clubs comes from the stadium ticketing system where they receive an amount of money established by their position in the standings.

“This payment will be made to the clubs even if the remaining matches will be played behind closed doors. It is calculated that the MFA will be forking out around 250,000 euros but we’re committed to ensure the sustainability of Maltese football.”

Vassallo said that the MFA has been asked by the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth and Sport Clifton Grima to provide a report on the financial impact the suspension of competitions has had on the MFA books.

“We are currently finishing off a report that will be presented to the authorities soon,” Vassallo said.

“I’m pleased that the government is recognising the difficulties our association is facing due to this pandemic and we will surely be happy to apply for any kind off assistance provided to us.

“In the last three months, the association has lost a lot of revenue through sports tourism. We had over 6,500 bed nights that had to be cancelled due to the partial lockdown imposed by the authorities and that will effect negatively our finances.”

Domestic football in Malta is currently suspended due to the spread of the coronavirus until at least April 5 and Vassallo said that he has no idea when the 2019-20 season will continue.

“We still do not know when football competitions in Malta will resume,” Vassallo said.

“In our last meeting, we signed an agreement that obliges us to follow all the directives issued by the European governing body as regards to when the domestic and international competitions will resume and how the season calendar will develop.

“At present, UEFA is looking at completing all domestic competitions in the various countries in Europe by June 28.

“However, everything depends on how the COVID-19 situation evolves. If that would entail to resume our competitions in June then the season is likely to extend deep into the summer months, but we need to wait and see.

“On Wednesday, there is a meeting between all national associations general secretaries with UEFA where details of other potential calendar scenarios will be provided.”

Players’ contracts

Vassallo said that in the coming days, the Malta FA will be meeting with delegates from local clubs to discuss the impact of the season suspension has on clubs in terms of players, coaching and technical staff contracts.

He said that he is aware that there are some clubs, from the Premier League and the Division One, who have already reached an agreement with some foreign players to end their contracts to limit their expenditure.

Vassallo said that it’s unfortunate that this situation has hit badly the national team’s preparations for the UEFA Nations League qualifiers which are due to start in September.

Devis Mangia was due to make his debut as national team coach in friendlies against Gibraltar and Azerbaijan this month, but these matches have now been moved to June.

The MFA chief confirmed that the international friendly against Portugal, on June 9, in Lisbon is also still on, which could mean that Malta could have three warm-up matches in June.

“Our international programme is subject to how the COVID-19 situation evolves,” Vassallo said.

“It would be a pity if the summer window of international matches is also scrapped as it would leave our national team without any friendlies before we start our commitments in the Nations League.”

Asked whether the association will have to change the format of its competitions should the 2020-21 season will be forced to start at a much later date than the planned August appointment, Vassallo said: “We are in quite a good position should the next domestic season start, let say in October.

“In the current format, the Premier League has 26 match days and none of them are held in midweek, so we have plenty of room to manoeuvre.

“However, one scenario that would need to be looked at would be the format of UEFA competitions for our clubs.

“With the preliminary round matches, starting as early as June and July, the European governing body may well have to change the format of how these are played, but again we need to just wait and see how things develop.”

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