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League braced for more departures

The Gibraltar Football Association is braced for more departures from the football league as it moves
into a new era with the start of the National League. This was highlighted this week by GFA officials
who admitted that they are aware that the league is not sustainable at its present format and had
originally wished for it to be reduced in numbers. However, it was unable to do so as they didn’t
wish to implement what has been described as “wishy-washy rules.”
GFA Deputy General Secretary Ivan Robba this week told the Gibraltar Chronicle “its been coming for
a while if you look at last season some teams who forfeited matches, who just made it over the line.
What we did when we reformed, and there were three options and one was to have less teams but
we said ‘no’, we had to respect what kind of criteria you had to apply. This was foreseen that it was
going to happen.”
“Perhaps the teams we have seen we didn’t foresee, but we did foresee that the current plan was
simply not sustainable the way we are going. We are a very small place and with us increasing the
home grown player rule - people seem to forget about the home grown player increase and focus
on the financial - but we are talking of four on the field now and five next season.”
Mr Robba believed that teams needed to be prepared to have up to seven home grown players in
their squad lists, or even more.
This he said was known not to be “sustainable” at the present state of the league. However, with
clubs withdrawing, what was happening now was that players were filtering down into other teams
and increasing their home grown player numbers. This he described as a “natural cycle.”
Officials, however, are still aware that this is just at a starting stage and that nobody can predict
what will be happening once the league is split into the Championship and Challenge groups. There
is strong belief among many league and club officials that the league will see clubs reducing their
investment and resources once the league is split with some clubs possibly falling through the net.
At least two clubs this week revealed publicly that they had struggled to meet the Home Grown
Player numbers and registration of player numbers to meet the criteria to play in the league. Both
teams benefitted from the demise of Gibraltar United and Gibraltar Phoenix with players migrating
into their squads and securing their place in the league. With other clubs still also closely monitored
over financial issues such as unpaid wages, officials have indicated that they are aware this could
mean that the league could see a further reduction in numbers before the end of the season.

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