MFA Exco set to confirm decision on top-tier league on Friday
The 2020-21 football season is facing the prospect of being halted for a second successive season as the government and the health authorities failed to lift the ban on organised sport.
All organised sport was halted by the authorities last month until at least April 11 following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
However, with the number of positive cases reducing considerably in the last few weeks, there was hope that athletes who practice sport at elite level in Malta will be given the green light to resume their preparations ahead of gradual return of competitions.
However, speaking during a press conference in Castille, Prime Minister said that for the time being restrictions on organised sport remained in place and may be will be lifted after April 26 should the situation continues to improve.
“It’s important that everyone remain responsible and do not break the current restrictions so that on April 26 we can look forward to reopen the restaurants, bars and the return of organised sport as well as other activities,” Dr Abela said.
“Everything will depend on how as a country we manage the lifting of restrictions.”
The decision is particularly a huge blow for the Malta Football Association who is facing the prospect of ending the Premier League earlier than expected for a second successive season.
It is to be noted that Malta is the only country that has elite sport halted due to COVID-19.
In the last few weeks, the Malta FA had made a proposal to the health authorities so that Premier League teams will be given permission to return to training last Monday and the Challenge League clubs on April 12.
The local governing body had made the request for the Premier League so that the top-tier of Maltese football will be able to resume at the start of May so that the final six matchdays will be played out and the deadlines set by UEFA for this summer’s club competitions will be met.
However, with the authorities failing to grant this permission it sets up the scenario that the Premier League championship will be brought to a halt earlier than expected.
The decision to halt the Premier League is set to be confirmed on Friday during an Executive Committee.
Unlike last season, this term the Malta FA has the regulations to decide the league champions, the teams competing in Europe and the teams relegated to the Challenge League.
This is because last year they have approved regulations for when football has to stop due to a force majeure that stipulate that the league standings will be used if championship is stopped with less than 25 per cent of the fixtures still need to be played.
With that mark fulfilled, Ħamrun Spartans are set to be confirmed as champions with Hibernians, Gżira United and Birkirkara handed a place in the newly-founded competition, the Conference League.
On the other hand, Senglea Athletic, who were already relegated, are set to be joined by Tarxien Rainbows, Lija Athletic and Żejtun Corinthians, in the Challenge League next season.