Sliema Wanderers coach Andrea Pisanu and all the members of the first team went in front of the media on Thursday to reveal the daily battles that left them fighting poverty after the Premier League club’s top hierarchy didn’t honour their contract obligations by failing to pay their wages to any member of the first team.
The Sliema players spoke to the media just a day after club president Jeffrey Farrugia handed in his resignation, in a letter he sent to the Malta Football Association, following weeks of turmoil at Malta’s most successful Premier League club.
In the last few weeks, the Wanderers administration was accused by the Malta Football Players Association of being “gravely in breach of its contractual obligation to its players and coaching staff, due to numerous outstanding salaries.”
The MFPA had already revealed the struggles some of the Sliema players were going through, with “some full-time players are literally struggling to feed themselves and their families”.
More details of the struggles that the Sliema players are passing through were given by club captain Mark Scerri who said that all promises made to the players by the club’s administration
“We had certain players who struggled financially and we are talking about players who didn’t have money for food, for fuel or no money to send back home as there are a lot of players here who have families abroad so their struggle was real financially,” Scerri said.
“A lot of promises were made to us but never materialised. I would like to give credit to the team who have always put the problems to one side and always gave their 100 per cent. The performances were good, even if some results lately were not ideal, and that shows the unity of the team and that no matter we kept fighting for each other and we remained united in all these problems.”
On his part, coach Pisanu heaped praise on his players who he described as “big men” in the way they battled the situation but doing everything they could to help other team-mates who struggled with buying their necessities as well as food for themselves and for their families.
“When we started here we were just a team and then we became a group,” Pisanu said.
“Then the problem started, the money was not here. Then the problems continued and we became a family and in this moment we are a community and I will explain how this community is working.
“Some players buy vouchers, some go to the shopping centre to buy food, others put in fuel on the car, organise dinner for each other like a family and a community. This is what we are doing. And these guys deserve all the credit because they are doing something amazing.”
Pisanu said that despite all these problems, the players are committed to continue working hard and are determined to reach the objectives they set at the start of the season.
“We are continuing doing our work fully committed and we will try in the end to reach our target. We still think that someone loves this club and it’s time to show this love for the club and for these players who work hard every single day.
“Finally, I would like to say that money can buy a position, buy a work, or a lot of things but it cannot buy the respect and dignity of the persons.”
Meanwhile, Sliema Wanderers on Thursday issued a statement to announce that they had accepted Farrugia’s resignation and said that they are working hard to solve the situation.
“The Sliema Wanderers FC committee has unanimously accepted the resignation of Mr Jeffrey Farrugia from Club President,” the club said in a statement.
“The current committee remains committed to working tirelessly to resolve the current financial situation.”