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Hibernians request to move back cup final against Birkirkara by an hour turned down by Malta FA

Updated with Malta FA and Birkirkara statements:

Hibernians FC stated to show their disappointment after their request for a change in the fixture for Saturday’s Women’s Knock Out final against Birkirkara was turned down by the Malta Football Association on Thursday.

Hibernians will face women’s champions Birkirkara in Saturday’s Knock Out final at the Centenary Stadium, with kick-off time set at 6pm.  

The Paolites made the request, as a number of their players will be sitting for their SEC Examinations which finish at 6pm, and therefore are likely to be forced to sit out of the match.

Hibernians said that they had asked to move the match back by one hour, but the Malta FA turned down this request.

“Hibernians FC regrets to announce that despite our earnest efforts, our request for a change in fixture for the upcoming Women’s Knockout Final has not been upheld,” the Paolites said in a statement.

“On Saturday some of our players will be sitting for their SEC Examinations, which session will finish at 18:00, the same time as the Kick Off. Unfortunately, for the girls, this causes an inevitable dilemma between academic responsibilities and sporting achievements.

The club has sent the Malta Football Association (MFA) a fair and justified request for a change in the time of Kick Off by one hour.

“Such request emphasizes the significance of accommodating these circumstances to maintain the integrity of the final and ensure a level playing field for both teams.”

Hibernians added that their request was not even supported by their rivals Birkirkara.

“Regrettably, our plea was not upheld, and more surprisingly, our opponents, Birkirkara FC, did not support our appeal for a fixture change,” Hibernians FC added.

“We sincerely hope that both MFA and Birkirkara FC reconsider their position so that we can play a final in a fair level field.”

Shift upon agreement

The Malta FA issued a statement whereby they said that they are ready to shift the kick-off time if both clubs reach an agreement on the matter.

“While the Association understands that at times players are faced with such clashes in timing, considering that this is a senior competition and that a multitude of matches are played during periods when examinations are held, it is not practicable that all permutations can be taken into consideration when scheduling matches,” the MFA said.

“In this specific instance, the Malta FA has no objection to shifting the kick-off time if both clubs are in agreement.”

Stripes’ refusal

Birkirkara, on their part, released a club statement regarding Hibernians’ lament.

“The Club would like to clarify that on December 27, 2023, exactly four months before the Women’s Knockout Final, the Fixtures Department of the Women’s Sector of the Malta Football Association released a draft calendar for all clubs, including Birkirkara FC and Hibernians FC. This draft indicated that the Women’s Knockout Final was scheduled for April 27, 2024,” the statement opened.

“The Matsec – University of Malta published the draft versions of the MAIN/FIRST 2024 session timetables at the beginning of October 2023, making them readily available online. By the end of February, all students received the confirmed schedule via postal mail.”

“Therefore, at this stage, nearly two months ago, Hibernians FC had access to information regarding both the date of the Women’s Knockout Final and the O-level schedule. It was the responsibility of Hibernians FC to ensure that none of their players had any O-levels scheduled for this date.”

“On April 15, 2024, the Fixtures Department of the Malta Football Association released the fixtures for the Women’s Knockout Semi-Final and Final. At that time, all involved clubs were informed that the final’s kick-off time was scheduled for 6pm.”

“Despite having this information at hand, including the kick-off time of the final and the O-levels schedule, Hibernians FC failed to notify the Malta Football Association of their players’ O-levels schedule.”

“It was only after Hibernians’ victory in the semi-final, nearly a week later, when our team had all arrangements in place, including training schedules, player leave arrangements, and the day’s program for the final, that a representative from Hibernians FC requested a change in the kick-off time.”

“The Club would like to remind the general public that the majority of the team’s players are amateurs. Any changes to the kick-off time would have caused inconvenience to several players who had already arranged their leave hours months in advance and would now need to adjust them.”

“Given this, taking into consideration the huge amount of time that Hibernians FC had to notify the Malta Football Association about this but they failed to do so, the club decided to abide with the 6pm kick-off time.”

“The Club acknowledges the statement issued by the Malta Football Association and wishes to remind all concerned parties that had Hibernians FC notified the association of their request within the four months, the decision would not have fallen upon the club. However, our stance remains to honor the original kick-off time, considering that no objections were raised during the entire week following the confirmation of kick-off time and four months from when the date of the match was communicated.”

“In addition to the details mentioned in the club’s statement, we would like to put on record that during the 2023/2024 season, the club requested to have four (4) fixtures changed for various reasons, as communicated to the Malta Football Association. One such request involved our match in the Assikura Women’s League against Hibernians FC, where we sought an hour earlier kick-off time. However, this request was rejected by the MFA.”

“The Club shall be making no further comment on this issue and would like to encourage all the supporters to come to the stadium and support the team,” Birkirkara’s statement concluded.

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