Football in Malta

Last updated
Football in Malta
CountryMalta
Governing body Malta Football Association
National team(s) men's national team
National competitions
Club competitions
International competitions

Football in Malta is run by the Malta Football Association and was introduced to the Maltese Islands during British rule in the mid-19th century. [1] The sport at the time was new to England, and was used as a means of entertainment for the soldiers stationed in Malta at the various barracks around Malta at the time. In 1863 a football association was formed which governed rules and regulations for this quickly changing sport, which was still in amateur competition stage and played in an un-scheduled format until 1909 when a league format was introduced.

Contents

The association runs the national football team, as well as administering the semi-professional [2] Maltese Football League and the Maltese Cup for club sides. [3]

History

The first Maltese championship in the 1909-1910 season was won by Floriana. The league regularly changed in numbers as teams changed administrators, dropped out of the league, and new teams re-entered. Up until the season of 1939-1940 this first league remained the only league in Maltese football, and was called the Maltese division one. Sliema Wanderers and Floriana dominated, winning all but four championships up to 1940. The Maltese football league trophy was implemented in the 1935 season which Sliema Wanderers and Floriana continued to dominate up to the Second World War between them.

Unfortunately due to the Second World War, the league had to break-off since many Maltese players were drafted in to the defence of the island during the early 1940s when the Maltese archipelago were heavily involved in the North Africa conflict due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean Sea.

Normal league activity resumed in the 1945, after the end of the war with the league format of four teams joining including Sliema Wanderers and Floriana. The Maltese football association league format soon changed however, to a multiple tier format as from the 1946 season. The passing of the North Africa conflict saw the Maltese football associations largest interest with fifteen clubs registering to join the Maltese FA in the 1940s, doubling the size of the number of registered clubs within ten years. Many of today's familiar names joined the league including Valletta and Hibernians.

Interest in the Maltese league continued throughout the 1950s, 1960's and 1970s with fifteen more clubs joining the league including Birkirkara FC in 1950 . It was however Hibernians and Valletta who put together a good challenge to Sliema Wanderers and Floriana, winning eight championships between them, and three league trophies.

The 1980s saw the monopolization of Sliema Wanderers and Floriana finally come to an end with four clubs taking most of the honours in this decade. The inauguration of the new national stadium, Ta' Qali could have been a reason for this, with a large re-structuring of the Maltese league program to coincide with Maltese football's new impressive home. Hibernians F.C. went on to win the Maltese league championship in 1981 and 1982, Rabat Ajax (formed 1930) won in 1985, and 1986, however the real surprise came from one of Malta's oldest clubs, Ħamrun Spartans who won the league three times in 1983, 1987 and 1988, and won a five league trophies. Floriana did win the league trophy in 1981, but were relegated to Malta's second league in the 1985 season.

The last decades of the century saw the league format expand to its fourth tier, now with fifty clubs registered in the league. A diverse range of clubs now sharing the trophies in the Maltese league's top tier to contribute to an entertaining and high quality semi-professional football league. Valletta enjoyed a golden age in the 1990s winning five championships and four league cups. A re-juvenated Floriana won the championship in 1993, as well as two league cups, and Sliema Wanderers, Ħamrun Spartans and Hibernians also picked up notable honours.

At present there are a number of clubs with the resources and capability of winning the championship trophy, which is now called the Maltese Premier League trophy. Birkirkara FC are the notable new force in the Maltese league, after winning their first championship in the year 2000, and the team from Malta's largest town has regularly picked up honours since propelling itself into the history books. Other teams to have made relative impact were Żurrieq in the 1980s and Valletta in the late 1990s.

Early league format

The first Malta Football Association Premier League (1st Division) 1909-1910

PosTeamPldWDLGFGAGDPts
1 Floriana (C)440060+68
2 Sliema Wanderers 421152+35
3St. Joseph's United42024404
4Boys Empire League411274+33
5Malta University4004012120
Source: RSSSF
Rules for classification: 1) points; 2) goal difference; 3) number of goals scored.
(C) Champion.

Current system

Currently the Maltese national and official system consists of 53 teams within 4 tiers. These are the Maltese Premier League, the Maltese First Division, the Maltese Second Division, and the Maltese Third Division. They are all currently sponsored by the Bank of Valletta. The FA Trophy is a knockout competition for all clubs taking part in league competitions in Malta and Gozo; the winners play the Premier League champions in the Maltese Super Cup.

Other competitions

Other football competitions run in Malta include:

Viewership and attendances

In the latest decades, particularly the 1990s the Maltese leagues have not had high attendances except for particular derby matches or league deciders. This has often been attributed to various reasons, including the higher quality of foreign leagues (especially the Italian Serie A and the English Premier League), slow-paced football, low interest, relatively unknown players, lack of professionalism and perceived corruption. [4] This has improved since the promotion of Qormi to the top tier, a team which has had a strong following ever since getting promoted. A phenomenon also occurred in the lowest tier, where Zejtun Corinthians and Naxxar Lions, two sides from relatively large localities, started to push for promotion from the Maltese Third Division during season 2009-10. This ended up in a rivalry between the two teams who boasted stronger squads when compared to the other Third Division teams, thus attracting larger crowds than usual. However attendances remain relatively low in numbers. It is important to note that very few statistics are available.

English and Italian rivalries

Most Maltese people prefer to watch English and Italian leagues. This traces its beginning to the nation's political past, where in the 1930s a hot political issue was the Language Question, i.e. whether Malta had to adopt either Italian or English as an official language. This created pro-British and pro-Italian factions within the Maltese, virtually splitting the population in two. [5] This rivalry now remains subtly in the nation's main political parties, but also in football, where as said before Maltese prefer foreign leagues to the Maltese one. During World Cups Maltese generally side with either the English or the Italians. Popular foreign clubs are mainly English Domestic Treble Winners, Manchester City, Liverpool, Juventus, Milan and Inter. Popular national teams apart from their own are mainly England and Italy, with Brazil in the third place, followed by Germany and the Netherlands to a lesser extent. [6] These foreign fandoms generally divert attention from Maltese football to the detriment of the Maltese leagues and the Malta national football team.

Related Research Articles

Maltese Premier League Association football top division of Malta

The Maltese Premier League, known as BOV Premier League for sponsorship reasons with Bank of Valletta, is a full-time professional league and the highest level of football in Malta. Managed by the Malta Football Association, the Premier League is contested by 16 teams and operates on a promotion and relegation system with the First Division. As of August 2018, the Premier League ranks 45th out of 55 members in the UEFA coefficient.

Valletta F.C. Association football club in Malta

Valletta FC is a semi-professional football club based in Valletta, the capital city of Malta, and competes in the Maltese Premier League, the top flight of Maltese football. The club was founded in 1943 after a merge of Valletta Prestons, Valletta St. Paul's and Valletta United, the latter being a two-time league winner before the Second World War.

John Buttigieg is a Maltese football manager, coach and former player. As a player, he is best remembered for his eight-year spells in the Maltese Premier League with Sliema Wanderers and Floriana. He also played in England for Brentford and Swindon Town and won 97 caps for the Malta national team. After retiring as a player, he managed Birkirkara, Sliema Wanderers and Malta.

The 1999–2000 Maltese Premier League was the 20th season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 85th season of top-tier football in Malta. It was contested by 10 teams, and Birkirkara F.C. won the championship.

The 2000–01 Maltese Premier League was the 21st season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 86th season of top-tier football in Malta. The league started on 19 August 2000 with Birkirkara as the defending champions after their first title in the previous season.

The 2001–02 Maltese Premier League was the 22nd season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 87th season of top-tier football in Malta. The league started on 18 August 2001 and finished on 5 May 2002. Valletta were the defending champions.

The 2002–03 Maltese Premier League was the 23rd season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 88th season of top-tier football in Malta. The league started on 24 August 2002 and finished on 11 May 2003. Hibernians were the defending champions.

The 2003–04 Maltese Premier League was the 24th season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 89th season of top-tier football in Malta. The league started on 22 August 2003 and finished on 9 May 2004. Sliema Wanderers successfully defended last season's league triumph, equalling Floriana's league title record of 25 championships.

The 2003–04 Maltese Premier League was the 25th season of the Maltese Premier League, and the 90th season of top-tier football in Malta. The league started on 7 September 2004 and finished on 8 May 2005. Sliema Wanderers successfully defended last season's league triumph, surpassing Floriana's league title record of 25 championships.

The 2007–08 Maltese FA Trophy was the 70th season since its establishment. It featured 20 teams from Maltese Premier League and First Division. The competition started on 3 November 2007 and ended on 24 May 2008 with the final, which Birkirkara F.C. won 2–1 against Hamrun Spartans.

Jean Pierre Mifsud Triganza

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The Maltese Premier League 2009–10 was the 95th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-tier football league in Malta. Hibernians were the defending champions. The season began on 21 August 2009 and ended on 5 May 2010. It was won by Birkirkara, who became the league winners for the third time in their history.

The 2010–11 Maltese Premier League is the 96th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-tier football league in Malta. It began in August 2010 and ended in May 2011. Birkirkara are the defending champions, having won their third title last season.

The 2011–12 Maltese Premier League was the 97th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-tier football league in Malta. It began on 19 August 2011 and it ended in May 2012. Valletta were the defending champions, having won their 20th title last season.

The 2012–13 Maltese Premier League was the 98th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-tier football league in Malta. It began in August 2012 and ended in May 2013. Valletta were the defending champions, having won their 21st title last season.

The 2013–14 Maltese Premier League was the 99th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-tier football league in Malta. It began on 16 August 2013 and ended on 26 April 2014. Birkirkara are the defending champions, having won their 4th title the previous season.

The 2017–18 Maltese FA Trophy was the 80th version of the football tournament. It was sponsored by Boost Diesel, which was revealed during the draws of the first, second and third round of the Maltese FA Trophy at the Trophies Lounge in Malta Football Association headquarters in Ta' Qali. A total of sixty–four clubs participated in this season's cup competition.

The 2018–19 Maltese Premier League was the 104th season of top-flight league football in Malta. The season began on 17 August 2018 and ended in April 2019. Defending champions Valletta won their 25th title, following a penalty shootout win against Hibernians in a championship decider match.

The 2019–20 Maltese Premier League was the 105th season of the Maltese Premier League, the top-flight league football in Malta. The fixtures were announced on 2 July 2019; the season started on 23 August 2019 and was scheduled to conclude on 25 April 2020. Valletta were the defending champions, having won their 25th title the previous season.

References

  1. "Key moments in Maltese football". timesofmalta.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-07-16. Retrieved 2018-10-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "What can Malta learn from Iceland's football success?". timesofmalta.com. 2013-10-27. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  4. "Maltese culture". GuideToMalta.net. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  5. "England vs Italy - a very Maltese rivalry (1)". timesofmalta.com. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  6. "World Cup 2010: Strong rivalry between Italy and England soccer fans in Malta". Expertarticles.com. 2010-06-16. Archived from the original on 2013-12-02. Retrieved 2013-11-15.

Further reading