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‘Valletta FC’s top hierarchy should take full responsibility for team’s relegation’

Valletta FC were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday. Photo: Dominic Borg

Valletta FC technical director Jesmond Zerafa described the club’s shock relegation to the Challenge League as the worst experience in his football career and made it clear that all the people that are at the helm of the club should take full responsibility.

On Monday, Valletta FC fans woke up facing the sad reality that their club had been relegated from the top-flight for the first time in its glorious history.

On Sunday, the Citizens were soundly beaten by Naxxar Lions 4-0 to the dismay of their fans to become the third team to be relegated from the Premier League this season.

Zerafa said that everyone at the club should take the blame for what happened to the club and said that the club’s loyal fans don’t deserve to pass through this ‘horrible’ experience.

“For me, this is the worst experience I went through in Maltese football,” Zerafa told the Times of Malta.

“To see such a glorious club like Valletta FC pass through such an experience is absolutely terrible, even more, if you are part of the team’s technical set-up. I have been working as technical director for the past two months, and to be honest, I had no doubt that the team would be relegated after we had suffered defeat against relegation rivals Santa Lucia.

“I have no regrets to have been part of the team’s technical set-up and I have given all I could. But this is just a nightmare that the clubs should not go through.”

Zerafa is regarded as one of the club icons as during his career as both a player and coach he helped Valletta FC to win multiple domestic titles.

The former Valletta FC winger said that the problems that the club is being afflicted with at the moment are not something that happened overnight but have been accumulating over the years and the club administration refused to take proper action.

“After witnessing the club passing through so much glory in the recent past, winning all major honours in Maltese football, it’s tough to accept seeing the club in this situation,” Zerafa said.

“Nobody thought that the club would go through these but if we had to be honest, the club have been passing through a lot of problems in recent years but the people in charge refused to admit that we had these problems.

“All the persons that have been involved in the club this season, both who were part and the others who are still at the club, should feel fully responsible for this humiliation that the club has passed through.

“In my mind, Valletta FC had taken what they deserved.”

Zerafa said that the Valletta fans were the only people at the club that kept believing that we could avoid the drop but said that the club’s poor recruitment had made it impossible for the team to survive.

“The Valletta fans were the only ones who kept believing that we could escape the drop,” Zerafa said.

“For me our fans are the biggest asset of our club. They made huge sacrifices this year from a financial point of view to stay close to the team and help our club to come out of the difficult situation.

“The people who were responsible of our club’s recruitment this year were the main reason why we are heading to the Challenge League. The quality of players we had in our squad was of a very low level and it’s no surprise we got relegated. The other teams brought overseas players that made a difference on the pitch. The majority of our overseas players didn’t have the quality to even play in the Challenge League.

“In January the people in charge at the club had the opportunity to strengthening the team with quality players in key positions such as the forward line but these never arrived.”

“The only positive from this season is the emergence of several young players from the Academy who gave a huge contribution to the club and provided us with competition for places in the team. Their technical level was superior to that of our overseas players and that is all down to our academy coaches.

“At the moment I feel humiliated but with these young players the future of the club is bright.”

Despite the team’s relegation, Zerafa heaped praise on all the hard work put in by the club’s technical staff.

“Our technical staff was incredible this year despite all the problems afflicting the club,” Zerafa said.

“I have no regrets in putting a young coach like Juan Cruz Gill in charge of the team. He took full responsibility in the most difficult moment of the season. He is a very serious coach who didn’t deserve this outcome.

“I am also grateful to James McKay who worked really hard and was always behind the players and put himself at the players’ service but still it was not enough to save the club.”

Turning his sights on the future, Zerafa said that tough decisions need to be taken and he will only stay at the club if there is a significant change in how things are run at the club.

“Tough decisions need to be taken by the people in charge if the club is to recover from this huge setback,” Zerafa said.

“During my second spell as Valletta coach, I had already said that a number of people should walk away from the club and fresh people should come in. For some reason or another, these people are still at the club but now they have to take full responsibility.

“These are the people who brought the club to this situation and will carry this responsibility for the rest of their lives.

“I am ready to continue working for Valletta FC but only if there is proper change at the club.”



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