Msida St Joseph, Ħamrun Spartans replace demoted duo
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Msida St Joseph, Ħamrun Spartans replace demoted duo

The 2009-10 BOV Premier League will resume on September 25, the MFA Council decided last night.

The 2009-10 BOV Premier League will resume on September 25, the MFA Council decided last night.

Premier League football will be back on the local sporting agenda the weekend after next with Msida St Joseph and Ħamrun Spartans filling the void left by demoted duo Vittoriosa Stars and Marsaxlokk respectively.

This was decided by the Malta FA Council members during a meeting at the Centenary Hall yesterday evening.

Last month, the MFA council ordered the temporary suspension of the 2009-10 Premier League in light of the uncertainty triggered by the demotion of Vittoriosa Stars for match-fixing and the pending case against Marsaxlokk.

With the MFA Board to Investigate Corrupt Practices condemning Marsaxlokk to Division One after former club official Peter Hartshorne was found guilty of a match-fixing attempt last season, the Council last night voted in favour of a proposal to continue the BOV Premier League later this month.

Among the recommendations put forward by the MFA Executive Committee after a meeting on Wednesday, was that to resume the league this weekend but the Council members felt that it made more sense to restart the league a week later.

Following the approval of a motion to have 10 teams each in the BOV Premier and Division One leagues, the MFA Council yesterday confirmed that Msida SJ and Ħamrun, the two teams relegated from the top flight last season, will fill the vacancies created by the demotion of Vittoriosa and Marsaxlokk.

The latter two clubs will replace Msida and Ħamrun respectively in the BOV Division One League. These decisions eliminate the need to hold fresh draws for the fixtures of the top two leagues.

Joe Mifsud, the Malta FA president, also confirmed last night that competition regulations state that the results of the matches from this season's Premier League will stand, bar those played by the two demoted clubs.

With regards to the Division One Knock-Out, the MFA Council agreed that, in view of the changes necessitated by the demotion of Vittoriosa and Marsaxlokk, tomorrow's fixtures should be rescheduled.

The matches, Marsaxlokk vs Melita FC and Vittoriosa Stars vs St George's, have been postponed until October 24 but the KO competition will kick off on Sunday when San Ġwann meet St Patrick while Mqabba take on Balzan.

At the end of yesterday's meeting, in which Dr Mifsud and Peter Fenech, the Malta FA vice-president, read out key parts of the sentence of the Board to Investigate Corrupt Practices in the Marsaxlokk case, the Council members also authorised the president to rule on clubs' applications to register out-of-contract players.

This move is principally aimed at accelerating the registration process of new players, those who are without a contract, the newly-promoted clubs may opt to sign to strengthen their squads.

Earlier, Peter Carabott, the Marsaxlokk council member, had called on the Malta FA to keep the Premier League on hold until the club's appeal against their punishment is heard. His plea prompted the other Council members to delay the restart of the league by another week.

Dr Mifsud also mentioned that the MFA has received letters from Pietà Hotspurs and Rabat Ajax.

The Hotspurs, who finished third last season, are contending that they have twice been denied a sporting chance to gain promotion to the Premier League in view of the fact that Vittoriosa Stars have been penalised for an offence committed during last season's championship and their demotion from the Premier League to Division One.

For their part, Rabat, who were relegated to Division Two along with Senglea Athletic last season, also feel aggrieved by the events of late.

The Vittoriosa Stars council member informed the congress yesterday that his club will be contesting the fine and not their demotion from the top flight when they argue their case in front of the Independent Arbitration Tribunal.

Vittoriosa Stars' appeal against their demotion was rejected earlier this week while that of Manwel Ancilleri, the former club vice-president who allegedly tried to bribe two St George's players last season, was declared null as he failed to sign the documents.

While explaining important parts of the sentence to the assembly, Dr Mifsud also hit back at criticism of the long time it took the Board to reach its verdict on the Marsaxlokk case.

"The news conferences held by lawyers show that they are not really conversant with the regulations of the Malta FA," Dr Mifsud said.

Sacco tribute

At the start of yesterday's Council meeting, Dr Mifsud paid tribute to Joe Sacco, the former MFA secretary, who passed away last week.

The MFA president praised Sacco for his sterling contribution to Maltese football.

"It is fitting that Mr Sacco is remembered as a person who, as general secretary of the Malta FA, did a lot for Maltese football," Dr Mifsud said.

Next Programme (Sept. 25-27)

Msida vs Qormi; Floriana vs Tarxien Rainbows; Hibernians vs Dingli Swallows; Birkirkara vs Ħamrun Spartans; Sliema Wanderers vs Valletta.

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