Football league enters its third and final round with mass migrations expected at the end
The Gibraltar National League resumes this evening with Mons Calpe and St Joseph’s facing each other followed tomorrow by the big derby classic between Lincoln Red Imps and Europa.
For league leaders Lincoln Red Imps, the only club who have already mathematically qualified to play in European club competitions this season, their main objective will be to increase their points tally difference to eight and move a step closer to claiming the title. A victory tomorrow will leave them with just needing to match Europa’s record in the next two matches to secure the league title.
Europa for their part, with a new technical director and head coach enter the match hoping that the turmoil behind the scenes will not have disrupted the players as they seek to secure their own place in European club competition this summer.
Still within grasping distance, Europa need to secure points to ensure that they will be playing at least Europa Conference League football this season. Turmoil in the backscenes of the club has seen major changes at the helm alongside a string of reports indicating that there could be a migration of some of its top names to other clubs this summer. This adding to the concerns that off the field events could impact on the team’s performance in what is one of the biggest matches of the season for them.
St Joseph’s, who have also faced turmoil in the backscenes earlier in the year, will be looking at putting behind them the problems which saw them at risk earlier in the season.
Just two points clear of fourth placed Bruno Magpies St Joseph can ill-afford to drop points against Championship group strugglers Mons Calpe. The latter, although dropping points and looking certain to be out of the chasing pack for European club football places, have nevertheless proven to be a tough team to beat, with a aggressive offensive disposition which has seen them cause rivals problems.
St Joseph’s, whose early season firepower brand has diminished somewhat in the second round, has been able to keep the squad together until the summer maintaining their position within the top three. However, with reports of a mass migration of its top players this summer with rival clubs already looking to target its key players concerns over the player’s focus as the league approaches its final five match days continue to be raised.
This evening’s match against Mon’s Calpe, although one which St Joseph would be expected to keep on adding to their tally of points will not be taken lightly after the second round’s 1-1 draw which saw the blue drop crucial points.
Facing Lincoln Red Imps next week, the blues will want to secure the points to keep themselves in third place. With the league their only hope of European Club competition football this season after being knocked out of the Rock Cup by College 1975, St Joseph enter the next five match days knowing that they have a battle in their hands. Although fourth place could still guarantee European football, the club which has faced financial problems they now hope have been overcome, will be looking to secure an automatic slot. The prospect of a mass migration of its top players makes their objective of obtaining European football positions in the league far more crucial to the club in order to maintain their momentum. St Joseph, the oldest club in the Gibraltar National League, during the past years having established itself as one of the top three whilst working with one of the toughest budgets of all the top three clubs.
Mons Calpe, who themselves have already faced the prospect of sanctions from UEFA earlier this year which placed their participation in European football at risk, are unlikely to repeat last year’s fourth place finish as they continue rooted to the bottom of the Championship group table.
They only produced one point from their five matches in the second round, the point coming against St Joseph, a feat they will be looking to repeat.
With the league still working with short-term contracts for many of its players the final five match days once again raises concerns over the impact this has on player performances as the focus turns on the players future.
With reports already emerging of major migration of some of the top players, mainly among the foreign players. Some of whom are expected to change allegiances next season to rival clubs, and with clubs such as Europa and St Joseph already seen tightening their budget strings, the concerns over the impact on players has heightened this season. Observers already pointing to the fact that some players have seen their efforts on the field impacted as reports of movements this summer started to emerge towards the latter part of the second round, this something which has been evident on previous seasons.