The 2020-21 BOV Premier League gets under way on Saturday under extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Malta FA is doing everything in its power so as everything goes as planned in a clean and safe environment.
Although matches are being held behind closed doors, fans will still have the opportunity to follow the fortunes of their teams as the Malta FA will be livestreaming those matches, who are not broadcast on TV, on their website.
In fact, fans will be able to watch their team’s matches by clicking on live.mfa.com.mt.
“This is a new technology for Maltese football,” Matthew Spiteri Gonzi, Commercial Director at the Malta Football Association, told a news conference.
“We have installed special cameras at the Centenary Stadium, National Stadium, the Tedesco Stadium as well as the Hibs Ground which have an artificial intelligence that sees them following the ball’s movement.
“This technology will surely be very popular with the fans who are unable to come to the stadium to see their favourite teams in action. Obviously, we are still experimenting and hopefully we can further improve the service to ensure the Maltese supporters can follow in the best possible way their team’s fortunes.”
Matches from the opening three matchdays will be free of charge, however, as from Match Day Four a subscription fee will be required.
Spiteri Gonzi said that it is still early days to say how much will be the subscription fee but they will using these first three Match Days to see the fans engagement before a decision is taken.
On his part, Dr Angelo Chetcuti, the Malta FA general secretary, said that it has always been the local governing body’s objective to restart competitive football.
He said that the national teams’ international matches and the Maltese clubs games in UEFA competitions were a good training exercise for all parties involved.
“We are delighted that competitive football finally returns, albeit in very particular circumstances,” Dr Chetcuti said.
“A lot of work has been put in to ensure that our strict medical protocol is put in place and everything will work as planned. Hopefully, the work we are putting in will continue to improve to provide the best possible platform for our teams in our national competitions.
“Obviously, for the time being the Premier League and the Challenge League will be played behind closed doors. So far, we had the chance to run the Return to Play protocol, which is quiet rigid, during the international matches and the UEFA club competitions held in the last few weeks and everything worked out smoothly.
“However, we are aware that a positive test or one person who ends in mandatory quarantine can change everything, so we need to be very careful and not look too far ahead.”
The MFA general secretary said that prevention was the central cog of the medical protocol that is being implemented and hoped that all parties will be responsible and vigilant so that nobody is put in danger.
“All the guidelines we are putting on the table are based on prevention to ensure that football activity resumes in a safe manner,” Dr Chetcuti said.
“Use of face masks, temperature taken before entering the stadium and hygiene are fundamental and we have extended the time from one match to the other to ensure that the venue is cleaned before the second match.
“We will remain in touch with the health authorities on the COVID-19 situation and when a positive case is identified it will be our medical team who will conduct the contact tracing and assessment so it will be more factual.
“It’s important to point out that if a club has a positive test or somebody goes into mandatory quarantine, they must report it to us, or they will be disciplined. This is being done as we don’t want to put anyone at risk of contracting the virus.”