Tag: Malta

Rainbows, Wanderers & Hibernians: The Start Of The New Season In Malta

The new season in Malta is just about to begin, and Paul Grech is here to tell us all about what we can expect there over the next few months. When a league changes format, heated debate and criticism is likely to follow.  When the rules are changed midway through a season, you can also throw in a significant element of suspicion over what the motives for such a change might be. So it was in Malta when in January it was announced that the Premier league was being expanded from ten to twelve clubs, a decision which meant that one rather than two clubs would be relegated during the season that was underway, with three clubs being promoted from the First Division. Seeing that there were two big clubs – Sliema Wanderers and Hibernians – in serious danger of relegation, the initial reaction was that this was a move brought about to avoid seeing one of them go down.  Which, considering that Hibernians actually finished second off bottom, was a rather justified way of seeing things. In truth, it was a move pushed by Norman Darmanin Demajo who a few months earlier had won the right to lead the Malta Football Association after a long and bitter fight with previous president Dr. Joe Mifsud.  For Darmanin Demajo and the staff that he brought with him, the league needed...

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Corruption Allegations Make The Maltese Cross

Football in Malta has started to make a real impression in European competitions over the last couple of years but, as Paul Grech reports, the new season starts under a cloud amid controversy over match-fixing allegations involving two of the clubs in the Maltese Premier League. Days before the Maltese football season is due to start and still the future of Marsaxlokk FC and Vittoriosa Stars, the two clubs at the centre of corruption charges, is unknown after hearings were repeatedly postponed. For years, rumours of corruption have undermined the credibility of local football but when these were brought up the official reply always was that unless someone stepped forward with proof nothing could be done. Over the last year, however, attitudes have finally started to change. It started last August when Albanian coach Ilir Pelinku and former referee Joe Attard where charged with trying to fix the Champions League qualifier between Marsaxlokk and Slaven Belupo. The local side were cleared of any wrongdoing but soon they were in the news once again when, after a crucial game against Msida St. Joseph that saw them gaining access to the Championship Pool and condemning Msida to the relegation pool, the Msida goalkeeper revealed that he had been approached to throw the game. Marsaxlokk assistant-coach Peter Hartshorne and former player Claude Mattocks admitted the charges in court but both received only...

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