The government commission overseeing ventures between sports clubs and commercial entities has granted Sliema Wanderers FC “preliminary authorisation” for football pitches at Tigné Point to be transformed into retail outlets, it has emerged.

According to a bonds issue by Dizz Group company, D Shopping Malls Finance, unveiled at the end of September, the retailer has already entered into a 15-year lease agreement with Sliema Wanderers FC. The commission has yet to authorise the venture.

Asked about this, a company spokesman said all agreements were subject to the “obtainment of full authorisation from the Commission for the Commercialisation of Sports Facilities in accordance to law”.

Questions sent to the Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations Parliamentary Secretariat on what such a preliminary authorisation involved and how long was it valid for remained unanswered at the time of writing.

The Times of Malta reported last week that the fashion retailer would be transforming the present Sliema Wanderers FC pitches at the shopping complex into a complex with shops and offices spread on 2,681 square metres.

The group’s co-owner, Karl Izzo, is a member of the Commercial Sports Facilities Commission but a spokesman for the parliamentary secretariat said he would not be involved in the project evaluation process.

Mr Izzo, who is also the head coach of the Malta national waterpolo team, still sits on the commission.

The project is the first of its kind and will see the Premier League club taking advantage of new legislation allowing sports organisations to commercialise venues, a move the government hopes would help them become financially self-sufficient.

Approval by the commission is necessary before any of the proposed projects can be assessed by the Planning Authority.


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