Sliema Wanderers official Keith Perry resigns as club faces player revolt over unpaid salaries

Sliema Wanderers honorary vice president Keith Perry resigns as the football club faces turmoil over unpaid player wages

Keith Perry
Keith Perry

Updated at 7:30 pm with MFPA statement

Sliema Wanderers honorary vice president Keith Perry has stepped down from his role with the club in the midst of a deepening row with players over unpaid salaries.

Perry is the latest club official to resign after the departure of team manager Alex Muscat. MaltaToday understands that the resignations are linked to the current situation.

In a statement on Wednesday evening the Malta Football Players Association accused Sliema Wanderers of being “gravely” in breach of contractual obligations towards its players and coaching staff.

The players’ union said a number of fulltime players were “literally struggling to feed themselves and their families.”

Perry stepped down from club president in summer to make way for Jeffrey Farrugia, who arrived at the club with the promise of a lucrative sponsorship deal with the Catco Group, a Tunisian-Chinese company. Farrugia also went on a signing spree in a bid to boost the club's fortunes.

However, players have not been paid their salaries for the past three months despite the arrival of the new sponsor. MaltaToday understands that the Catco Group has promised a multi-million euro investment over the next five years but no sponsorship money has so far reached the club.

The situation has deteriorated to the extent that a number of players have signaled their intention to leave.

MaltaToday understands that a meeting between the club president and Catco chairman Fisal Abdullah Alokla with the players was held two days ago. Players were told that Catco was finding it difficult to open bank accounts in Malta and was trying to open an account in an overseas jurisdiction attested to Sliema Wanderers.

Alokla promised that the financial woes would be resolved within 10 days but sources said players remained unimpressed by the pledge, having been told countless times in the past weeks that salaries would be paid.

A €500,000 donation pledged to the Dar tal-Providenza on 1 January by the Catco Group appears to have been the straw that broke the camel's back. The announcement of the donation was made by former Opposition leader Adrian Delia and caught many by surprise.

Sliema's positive run at the start of the Premier League took a turn for the worse in January when the team lost three consecutive matches.

Malta Football Players Association statement

The MFPA confirmed in a statement on Wednesday evening the Sliema club “is gravely in breach of its contractual obligations to its players and coaching staff, due to numerous outstanding salaries.”

A number of players have reportedly not received their wages for the season, with some owed as far back as February 2020.

Currently Sliema already faces a FIFA and MFA transfer ban due to outstanding balances for cases they lost against 3 players, all of which were represented by MFPA.

“Without salaries, some full-time players are literally struggling to feed themselves and their families. It is completely irresponsible and unacceptable that Clubs are allowed to offer new contracts and commence a season in the Maltese Premier league, whilst the dues from previous seasons have as yet not been paid,” the players’ union said.

Malta Football Players Association (MFPA) General Secretary Carlo Mamo earlier confirmed that a number of players had come forward with complaints about lack of payments. He said the MFPA reached out to the club on Monday for an explanation.

“We will be meeting with the players to understand their concerns in the coming days. We will have to see about any legal proceedings which might follow,” he said.

A number of players have already alerted the club of its various breaches, in the hopes that the issue is resolved, the association said.

“MFPA has also sent an official email, requesting the Club to comply with its contractual obligations. No feedback has as yet been received. Should full payment not be made within the regulatory established time frame, there will be no option but to take legal steps to recover salaries owed,” the statement read.

A number of Sliema Wanderers FC full-time players are literally struggling to feed themselves and their families. It is...

Posted by Malta Football Players Association on Wednesday, January 27, 2021