17 APRIL 2002
By Ray Abdilla
Three Maltese football clubs have already expressed an interest in taking up a loan which an international finance company is prepared to make available to selected premier league clubs as from next season.
Damian Iwueke the MFA/FIFA Licence Players Agent and his partner and legal adviser Leslie Cuschieri have brokered a deal with an international finance firm to provide 2.5 million euros to local clubs as a form of sponsorship.
As of yesterday, Birkirkara, Marsa and Floriana had expressed an interest in applying for the loan.
Mr Iwueke and Dr Cuschieri said that the loan, which will be organised as a 'pool of fund', will enable participating premier league clubs to carry out their activities without too many financial constraints on a yearly basis.
The company is already working with a number of clubs in England, Italy, Slovenia, Bulgaria and some rich Arab countries.
They said that the firm's transactions in Malta as from next season will include the financing of the transfer of players from a selling club to a buying club or vice versa locally and internationally. They will also involve the financing of deferred payments due from sponsors to clubs, up to the contract period agreed between clubs and sponsors and the financing of deferred payments due to clubs from television rights and other type of advertising. The loan will also see to funding and sponsoring of the building of sports infrastructures such as ground development or the construction of new football stadiums and facilities and provide a credit insurance for the financing bank against a default by the borrowing clubs.
Mr Iwueke and Dr Cuschieri believe that clubs must start immediately to think of how to become professional outfits. "If clubs plan ahead and balance their books they will then be able to buy the best players and give them good salaries, while also becoming competitive locally and internationally," they said. "It is no use for a president to continue to provide money for salaries and bonuses of players every year, and then, when he leaves, the club finds itself in difficulty.
"A president should also help his club to become a business venture for his own benefit as well as the club's consolidated future."
They added that the firm will help clubs manage the fund they receive as well as advise them on their expenditure.
The firms general services include corporate and project financing, management consultancy, tax management, sports financing and business development.
Referring to the firms sports services, the two men said that in big countries, clients of the firm receive a substantial amount of the loan directly. But because of the small budgets of Maltese clubs, the 2.5 million euros will be organised as a 'pool of funds' from which those clubs selected, will receive funds from time to time.
"A club does not have to be very rich to benefit from the firms sponsorship although sensible expenditure and balancing of one's books is necessary," they said.