Sports ban forces termination of domestic competitions

Published: 09-04-2021 16:40
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‘Force majeure’ regulations applied – Premier Leagueand National Amateur Leagueto stand, Challenge League and Women’s League declared abandoned The Executive Committee of the Malta Football Association met via videoconference this afternoon to discuss the latest developments in the COVID-19 situation and its impact on the 2020/21 domestic competitions. The Executive Committee reiterated the Association’s immense disappointment at the extension of the nationwide ban on organised sports events as announced by the Government and the Public Health Authorities this week. In their analysis of the repercussions caused by the prolonged ban on sporting activity, the Executive Committee took into consideration the following factors: -           The period of sporting inactivity since the enforced suspension of all domestic competitions on 10th March, 2021, as decreed by Legal Notice 93 of 2021, and the subsequent extension of such restriction; -           The lack of direction from the Authorities as to when the ban on contact-sport training and sports events will be lifted; -           The position already expressed by the Executive Committee that should the above-mentioned Legal Notice be extended beyond the 12th April, the Association would have no alternative but to terminate domestic competitions; -           The timeframes established by UEFA, especially the June 1 deadline, for the submission of the names of the Maltese clubs competing in the 2021/22 UEFA Club Competitions. Having considered all of the above, the Association’s Executive Committee concluded that the eventual resumption of the 2020/21 domestic competitions is not possible in the current circumstances and decided to terminate all competitions, invoking Article 8 of Section VII of the Association’s Rules Governing Competitions. This Article was introduced last year to address force majeure circumstances in light of the unprecedented scenarios and complexities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Article 8 (i) of Section VII of the Competition Rules states that “where, in extraordinary circumstances, any of the National league competitions is terminated prematurely due to the impossibility of its natural completion for reasons beyond the control of any party, the classification following the last match played shall be deemed final, provided that all clubs have one-fourth or less of the competition yet to play”. In addition, Article 8 (iii) stipulates that “other than with respect to a club(s) that, at the moment of termination as provided above, would have already mathematically won the competition or have been mathematically promoted or relegated, where the respective competitions have not yet reached the stage as provided in sub-article (i), they shall be declared abandoned and no champion shall be declared. Furthermore, in such case there shall be no promotions and/or relegations”. In accordance with these regulations, the outcomes of the 2020/21 domestic competitions are as follows: BOV PREMIER LEAGUEAll clubs have played 76.67 per cent of their matches, meaning that the 75% requirement (one-fourth or fewer matches remain to be played) has been met. Hence, the classification after the last matchday (23) is declared final and to stand. Ħamrun Spartans FC have been declared champions as they occupy first place in the BOV Premier League classification while Hibernians FC, Gżira United FC and Birkirkara FC – the clubs positioned second to fourth – would be the clubs qualifying for the 2021/22 UEFA club competitions. The participation of the afore-mentioned four clubs in next season’s UEFA club competitions is subject to the granting of a club licence and in accordance with the rules, regulations, directives and guidelines issued by UEFA. The four clubs who occupied the last four positions in the classification – Żejtun Corinthians, Tarxien Rainbows, Lija Athletic and Senglea Athletic – will be relegated (Senglea Athletic were already mathematically relegated). BOV CHALLENGE LEAGUEIn the BOV Challenge League, not all 15 teams have reached the treshold of 75 per cent matches played and as a result, this championship is to be considered abandoned. In accordance with the regulations, Qormi FC will play in the National Amateur League next season as they were already mathematically relegated at the point of abandonmentof the Challenge League. Furthermore, as a result of such abandonment the Relegation/Promotion Play-Off between the 12th placed in the Premier Division and the 3rd placed in the Challenge League cannot and will not be played. BOV NATIONAL AMATEUR LEAGUEThe BOV National Amateur League was completed before the COVID-19 ban on sports event came into effect. Luqa St Andrew’s FC won the championship with the other promoted teams being Melita FC, Mġarr United FC and RabatAjax FC. BOV WOMEN’S LEAGUEIn the BOV Women’s League, not all seven teams have reached the treshold of 75 per cent matches played and as a result, this championship is to be considered abandoned. The Executive Committee decided that on the basis of sporting merit, as required by UEFA regulations, Birkirkara FC are to be nominated to participate in the UEFA Women’s Champions League 2021/22. CUPS AND OTHER COMPETITIONSThe following championships have been declared abandoned as the ‘one-fourth-or-less remaining matches’ criteria has not been met: National Youth League; Women Under 19; Girls Under-15; Futsal Under-16 The FA Trophy, National Amateur Cup, National Amateur Super Cup, and all other Knock-Out competitions have been declared abandoned. The three divisionsof the National League for Season 2021/22 will be discussed in forthcoming meetings of the Executive Committee and the Council. Decisions of Member Associations regarding their respective competitions are to be communicated to the Malta FA in the course of the next days.