“It is of utmost importance that the league is completed as we cannot afford a premature stop in view of these four UEFA Nations League matches for the national team where the MFA objective is to secure promotion. We need to prepare in the best way possible so that our players could perform. ” Agreement with BOV extended for another three years Bjorn Vassallo announced that the MFA and Bank of Valletta reached an agreement for the naming rights of the National League and therefore the collaboration between the two will continue for another three years. He thanked BOV, which was a strategic partner for the association, for its support and the support to the community in general.
On the other hand, the clubs classified between the 7th and 12th place during the First Phase shall play against each other on a single round basis known as Play-Out – Final Round which would determine the two teams to be relegated to the Challenge League. Four teams would be promoted from the BOV Challenge League and therefore the Premier League would have fourteen teams once again as from the following season. There will be four stops due to national team commitments – in September, October, November and March and then in June 2022, the national team will have a busy schedule with no less than four matches from the UEFA Nations League in ten days.
This, however, does not mean that all sectors will be opened for all matches. As from this season, two out of the six matches will be broadcast on TVM2, which is set to be renamed TVM News+, after PBS Ltd obtained the exclusive rights. On the other hand, there will no longer be live streaming of matches as although they were an acceptable solution for the past season when matches were played behind closed doors, the quality was not high enough. MFA President Bjorn Vassallo said that following the abrupt termination of last year’s Premier League campaign, the MFA and clubs have been working together in preparation for this coming season. He said he was looking forward with optimism towards the return of spectators for domestic matches following the return of spectators for UEFA club competition matches.
Vassallo added that clubs continued to invest in order to have competitive squads which promise a balanced competition. He said that it was the association and the clubs’ priority to bring this league to an end and this is only possible thanks to the rigid protocols. Format For this coming season, the Premier League, featuring twelve teams, would be played over two phases. During the First Phase, the league shall be played by all the twelve clubs on a double round basis. At the end of the First Phase, the clubs classified between the first and the sixth place shall play against each other on a single round basis known as Top Six – Final Round which would determine the champion and the teams to take part in UEFA club competitions.
Changes include: Match line-up to include 20 players and no longer 18Five substitutions in a maximum of three periods according to the Laws of the GameUse of squad list – a maximum of 25 professional players and a maximum of 12 non-home grown players registered at any one time (can include players eligible to play for the Youth team)Limit of seven foreign players on the pitch but a maximum of nine on the line-upYouth Development Pot which should serve as a financial incentive for clubs utilising Under-21 players playing a minimum of 45 minutesPlayers eligible to play in the Youth League would not be eligible to play for the Youth team in the next two days should they play 45 minutes or more with the senior side The MFA President said these are all indications that the local game is changing and that it is investing in youth development.
Changes in regulatory aspect Bjorn Vassallo explained that the MFA was there to improve the level of the game and changes in regulatory aspect meant to cover technical needs and give more stability to clubs. Months of discussions led to the signing of a memorandum of understanding was signed with Premier League and Challenge League clubs thanks to which clubs have new incentives and regulations which should lead the MFA and clubs to managed things professionally leading to more stability.
Number of spectators Meanwhile Director Football Operations Stephen Azzopardi said it was a pleasure to welcome back spectators to the stadiums as they were an essential part of the game. He said for the time being, each sector can host 200 spectators. This will increase to 300 on August 16 and 500 as from August 30. Spectators need to be in possession of the vaccine certificate. Rules with regards to social distancing, the wearing of masks and sanitising have to be observed. Sale of tickets Tickets can no longer be sold at the gates and for this reason, sale of tickets will be held online. He said the system is being upgraded so that once a person registers to be able to buy tickets, s/he could upload the vaccine certificate and there would be no need to do the whole process all the time. Tickets will be personalised. Hamrun Spartans and Valletta opted to sell themselves the tickets reserved for their supporters at least for match day 1. A sector will be reserved for neutral supporters.
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Medical Protocol Vassallo said the medical protocol has been updated according to the measures issued by health authorities. With regards to players and technical staff, these should have the vaccine certificate or a negative PCR test carried out not more than 48 hours before a game. This is being done until all players and technical staff are vaccinated. To make things easier for clubs, documents could be uploaded on COMET. The medical team which carried out contact tracing during the past season will continue to do so in the event of positive cases. Media and match day personnel should also present the vaccine certificate on the day. Ticket prices Tickets for Premier League matches will cost €10 for adults and €4 for children under the age of 12 and senior citizens.
Charles Azzopardi, Executive CSR & Communications at Bank of Valletta, said that the bank sought professionality from the game and the association. He added that throughout these years, the association continued to grow and more clubs are being run in a more professional basis and this was key to the bank’s decision to renew the agreement. Live matches on TV The MFA President said that following the issue of an expression of interest, Public Broadcasting Services were selected and therefore TVM2, and as from October, TVM News+, will be exclusively broadcasting two matches per match day. This agreement will run for three years.
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The MFA President said the change in the prices, on which there was a unanimous agreement between the MFA and the twelve Premier League clubs, was necessary due to the increased costs in match operations. Apart from the financial incentives for clubs, the MFA will be financing the the bulk of match operations, including the rental of the stadiums and the remuneration of match officials. An expense amounting to around €300, 000. The MFA will no longer take a share of the ticket price for its FSR but will create a separate fund. Clubs will receive the profit/loss from game income, after the deduction of expenses, including police officers and the medical protocol.
Tickets for BOV Premier League matches to be sold onlineTickets for BOV Premier League matches will be sold online via https://tickets. mfa. com. mt/ with the sole exception of those allocated to Hamrun Spartans and Valletta as the two clubs will be selling the tickets themselves. This was revealed during the launch of the BOV Premier League 2021/22 which was held at the Centenary Stadium on Monday. For the time being, the number of spectators allowed in each sector will be of 200 but this will increase to 300 in mid-August and 500 at the end of the month. This means that a match at the National Stadium in programme this weekend can host up to 1, 400 spectators divided over seven sectors – West Stand A, B and C; Millennium Stand D and F, North Stand and South Stand.
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No season tickets will be issued to the reduced capacity. Stand Allocation Stephen Azzopardi revealed that with regards to high profile matches, the stand allocation will be different from usual with the West Stand reserved for one team and the Millennium Stand for the other. This should provide a more colourful atmosphere at the stadium, apart from aspects of security and traffic management. The first two matches where this would be adopted are: Hamrun Spartans vs Valletta and Birkirkara vs Hamrun Spartans. Coach of the Month Award Following the revamp of the Player of the Month Award last season, this year the Coach of the Month Awards will be introduced. He would be selected by the captains, team managers, national team technical staff and the media.
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Official Match Ball The official match ball by Puma, supplied by Tuttosport, will not only be used in BOV Premier League matches but also the BOV Women’s League. Players who score a hat-trick would take the match ball home with them. Ball kids Ball boys and ball girls, aged 12 to 15, will only be allowed if vaccinated.
Azzopardi announced that a customer care service – online, by phone and through an office – will be launched in order to assist fans with regards to any difficulties related to the buying of tickets. The idea of ‘1 ticket 1 match’ is not only the result of the pandemic but also the fact that each game should have its own identity. He added that eventually, one would have the match day experience especially with regards to the big games.
Vassallo added that clubs agreed on a solidarity percentage where a percentage from the profit or loss will go to a solidarity fund. In his conclusion, the MFA president said that although this was not an easy period of time, the association and the clubs were doing their best to leave the game alive and competitive while rendering a good service to clubs and all those interested in the game. He said the two hybrid pitches at the National Stadium and the Tony Bezzina Stadium, which will host the large majority of Premier League matches, will give higher stability.
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