Malta FA blocks Portelli bid to play football for Hamrun

The decision can now be contested before appeals board   

Joseph Portelli
Joseph Portelli

The Malta Football Association’s executive committee has turned down Joseph Portelli’s bid to be registered as a Hamrun Spartans player.

“The Malta FA Executive Board met today to discuss the request by Ħamrun Spartans FC to register Mr Joseph Portelli as a professional player following his resignation from the post of club president,” the MFA said in a statement.

The MFA said the recommendation of the Ethics and Compliance Committee not to accept the registration was confirmed by the Executive Board, “which is ultimately the competent body to decide on such matters on the basis of the Association's Reputational Risk Management Policy.”

The decision is subject to appeal.

Joseph Portelli registration request referred to ethics committee

The MFA had turned down construction magnate Joseph Portelli’s registration as a player, referring his case to its ethics committee on Monday.

Sources told this newspaper the MFA administration acknowledged his resignation but turned down his registration as a Hamrun player.

Portelli, 43, last week stepped down as president of the club, which is comfortably leading the Premier League table, and is on course to win its second league title under Portelli’s presidency.

The MFA administration wrote back to the Hamrun club on Monday, calling on them to provide assurances that the contractual obligations with players will be honoured, should Portelli no longer be president.

MaltaToday is informed the MFA’s ethics committee met on Monday, with Hamrun Spartans provided the opportunity to have their say.

The MFA executive based its Tuesday afternoon decision on the ethics committee recommendation.

Portelli will now be allowed to appeal the decision, but will not be registered with Hamrun for the 2022/23 season as the transfer window closes at midnight on Tuesday.

Hamrun Spartans are currently leading the BOV Premier League with nine points over second place Gzira and on course to win their second league title under Portelli’s presidency.

They have won their last five league matches and qualified for the second round of the FA Trophy with a win over Gozitan team Għajnsielem.

Joseph Muscat enters the fray

This newspaper is informed that Malta Football Association President Bjorn Vassallo as well as the Premier League’s president, Joseph Muscat, had kicked back at a move by Gozitan mega-developer Joseph Portelli to resign his presidency at Hamrun Spartans in a bid to be registered as a footballer with the club.

Sources told MaltaToday that both Vassallo and Muscat had approached Portelli on the matter.

The matter is also being watched by Europe’s football governing body, UEFA, where Portelli’s sudden move to swap his presidency for a footballing role could have some sort of impact on licensing that affect Hamrun Spartan’s chances of playing in European competitions, a vital source of income for clubs.

“That would be something that other Premier clubs would be keen about,” a source told MaltaToday. “Portelli says it was always his dream to play in the Premier... but he is imposing his whim on a club that can hardly say no to him.”