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MFA to check on clubs’ eligibility for financial aid

MFA personnel will help to examine whether all football clubs affiliated with the Malta Football Association are eligible to benefit from the financial aid measures announced by the Government last week which were extended to the sports sector.

Maltese football is facing uncertain times after the 2019-20 season was thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced the Malta FA to suspend all domestic competitions indefinitely.

Clubs are currently trying to calculate the financial repercussions of having domestic football halted, leaving their players away from their usual duty for almost a month now.

But of more concern to Maltese clubs is the fact is that they are still in the dark on whether the 2019-20 season will be completed as so far UEFA have given little indications on what will happen.

On Wednesday, UEFA postponed all international matches scheduled for next June to ensure all European leagues had enough time to complete their competitions by July 20.

Until UEFA gives a definite response on what will happen, clubs will continue to face various conundrums regarding players’ contracts, employees’ wages and revenue from club sponsors among others.

This week, the Social Dialogue Committee met again with the various stakeholders in the game to discuss and take the necessary decisions to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At present, we understand the concerns regarding contractual instability being faced by players and clubs,” Carlo Mamo, the general secretary of the Malta Football Players Association, who are one of the bodies taking part in these talks, told the Times of Malta.

“There are doubts on whether the domestic season will continue and if yes when? Should the season be extended to the summer months, what will happen to the contracts of players and coaches whose deal expire on June 8? When will the 2020-21 season begin?

“This uncertainty, being generated by UEFA’s failure to give any kind of guarantees of when competitions will resume, has inevitably left the clubs in a difficult situation.”

Huge boost

Mamo said that the government’s decision to extend its financial assistance aid to the sport sector was a huge boost to the majority of football clubs. However, one has to see whether all clubs competing in the MFA competitions are eligible for this aid.

“The parameters of this financial aid, which is 800 euros for full-time employees and 500 euros to part-timers, covers most of the wages in clubs who are in the First Division and even a good number of Premier Division players. But one has to see if every club is eligible for this assistance. So, at the moment, our talks have temporarily been paused.”

Sharlon Pace, the president of Gżira United, said that the uncertain scenario created by UEFA is hurting the clubs and made it clear that should the season be extended beyond the normal timelines, he doesn’t think that the clubs should be the ones to suffer financially.

“This uncertainty is very frustrating for us as we still don’t know what is going to happen,” Pace said.

“Should the championship continue in June, as it was projected by UEFA, it would see the clubs go into extra costs as contracts will have to be extended by a couple of months. In that scenario, I don’t think that it would be fair that clubs should carry that burden.

“One has to remember that all revenue from sponsors has stopped at the moment so we cannot afford more losses.”

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