John Arne Riise has resigned as sporting director of Birkirkara FC, the Premier League club announced in a statement on Wednesday.

The Stripes said in a statement that Riise informed the club of his decision Wednesday morning, citing personal reasons.

“Birkirkara FC would like to communicate that Mr John Arne Riise has handed his resignation with immediate effect from his role as Sporting Director for personal reasons,” the club said in a statement.

“The club would like to put on record their thanks to Mr Riise for the work done with our club and wish him well for the future. The club would like to ask our supporters to allow the privacy of the situation to be respected.”

The Birkirkara FC committee also hit back at a number of allegations that were reported in the media on Riise’s resignation.

“Following on from the slanderous allegations circulating in the media, the club would like to condemn these actions and shall be boycotting those media that have chosen to report these false reports,” the club added.

The former Liverpool and Norway left-back had been only in the job for less than three months when he was handed the responsibility of the club’s technical sector on January 5.

Since his arrival, the Stripes went through a complete squad overhaul during the January transfer window as the club brought in the likes of goalkeeper Andrew Hogg, midfielders Johann Bezzina and Maurizio Vella along with striker Jorginho among others.

Riise’s arrival has marked the end for coach Paul Zammit who was excused by the club from his duties as first-team manager with the Norwegian working closely with Mark Buttigieg who was promoted to the club’s head coach.

Earlier this week, Zammit’s association with Birkirkara came to an end after he successfully lodged a complaint to the Malta FA Complaints Board for a breach of his contract.

The governing body ruled that the Stripes must pay Zammit the sum of €123,000 in unpaid salaries.

Contacted by the Times of Malta on Wednesday, Michael Valenzia, the club’s technical director confirmed the news of Riise departure but vehemently denied reports that the Norwegian left the club after an alleged argument with the club’s administration.

“I can confirm, that John Arne Riise is no longer Birkirkara FC sporting director,” Valenzia said.

“We were completely caught by surprise when this morning Riise informed us that he was resigning from his post. Obviously, we understood his reasons and we accepted his request.

“As a club we are disappointed by the reporting of some media outlets who invented stories on Riise’s exit for the club. There were no arguments between Riise and the club and he only left the club for personal reasons.”

Valenzia also rebuffed reports that Birkirkara had approached former Gżira United coach Darren Abdilla to take over the first team.

“I categorically deny that we have approached Darren Abdilla for the first-team job,” Valenzia said.

“Birkirkara have already a first-team coach in place when we appointed Mark Buttigieg earlier this year and we have every plan to continue working with him until the end of the season.”

Birkirkara are currently engaged in a fight for a place in European football this summer both through the Premier League as well as the FA Trophy.

The Stripes are currently sixth in the Premier League standings on 36 points, six adrift of third-placed Gżira United.

They are also through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals where they will face Mosta on May 3.

Birkirkara will resume their league commitments on Sunday when they face Sliema Wanderers at the National Stadium.



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