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MFA determined to appease financial strains of pandemic

MFA President Bjorn Vassallo speaks to the association's annual general meeting. Photo: Jonathan Borg

The Malta FA delegates approved a motion presented by president Bjorn Vassallo to give the governing body the right to revise its budgets for season 2021-22 should the COVID-19 pandemic effect continues to hit hard the game in Malta.

Club members and delegates met yesterday for the annual general meeting which inevitably featured the effects of COVID-19 on the Beautiful Game in Malta.

Vassallo told the assembly that during the past year, the MFA committed almost €2 million euros to local clubs to help them go through the effects of the pandemic, also thanks to the money generated by the FIFA COVID-19 assistance fund that was all transferred to clubs from all the levels of the game.

“We felt that every club and team from all levels of the game benefits a piece from the cake in a sign of solidarity in these difficult times,” Vassallo said

“This was a good decision as it is clear that there seems to be no end to the pandemic, and we need to ensure that all clubs survive this financial storm.

“Last year, we operated on a loss and our expectations must be reasonable given the circumstances and our approach will be a conservative one to ensure that what we will promise we will be able to deliver.”

The Malta Football Association Financial report for 2021 inevitably was hit hard by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, according to the accounts that were presented by Malta FA Treasurer Ivan Mizzi and which were approved by the MFA AGM assembly, it showed that during the past 12 months the local governing body of football recorded an operating income of €8.5 million for the year ending March 31, 2021, while the total expenditure reached €8.4 million.

The association’s income recorded a drop of around €400,000 which could be mirrored in the fact that the association could not receive any form of funds from gate money from either local or international matches due to the Health Authorities decision to ban the presence of fans in football stadia as part of the COVID-19 restrictions.

MFA president Bjorn Vassallo said that given the results attained by the national teams and how the national league competitions folded, the governing body made an estimate of €750,000 loss in gate money.

The association recorded a surplus of expenditure over income for the year of €1.3m. The addition of €1.7 million in accumulated funds brought forward has left the governing body with a surplus balance carried forward of €460,879.

The Malta FA Finances showed a drop in the number of salaries paid over the past 12 months which amounted to €2.6 million, around €400,000 less than a year before.

The biggest increase of expenditure for the governing body were Insurance and Medical costs that rose to €236,617 from €135,140 of last year while software licences rose from €23,300 to €133,690. Club Schemes expenditure more than doubled from €336,670 to €874,060.

During his closing speech, the Malta FA president said that not everything was negative in the past 12 months.

“The performances of our national teams have united a nation,” Vassallo said.

“The national team’s performances in the UEFA Nations League and the women’s World Cup qualifiers have generated a lot of excitement and it shows that the huge investment the MFA has done in the technical projects is starting to reap dividends and leaves us with a sense of optimism for the future.

“The future is bright, but we need to continue to work hard and keep believing that we can reach our objectives.”

Meanwhile, during the meeting, the club members and delegates approved the format of the National Leagues for seasons 2021-22 and 2022-23 following the premature termination of season 2020-21.

The Premier League will have 12 teams next season with the bottom two teams relegated and four teams from the Challenge League promoted to increase the number of teams to 14.

In the Challenge League next season, the 22 participating teams will be split into two divisions. For the next two seasons, six teams will be relegated and four teams promoted so that by the start of the 2024-25 season the second-tier will be formed by 16 teams.

Another motion approved yesterday saw the MFPA, GIDA, SWAN, and Veterans Malta being accepted as full members of the MFA family.

EXCO elections

During yesterday’s meeting, the AGM members approved the election of representatives from different standing committees who will form part of the MFA Executive Committee.

The members approved were Jesmond Abela and Victor Cassar for the Premier League, Joseph Sammut and Stefan Vella for the Challenge League, Robert Camilleri, Patrick Cutajar, Christ Grech, and Cory Greenland for the Amateur League. Member clubs will be represented by David Abdilla and Francis Muscat.

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