Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect. You laugh, you cry, you anticipate the year to come.
As the boughs of holly are dotted around the isle of Malta, auld adversaries the Family Vaughan (Stephen’s Snr. and Jnr.), owners of Floriana FC, must be relishing the chance to put their feet up.
These last two months alone have seen a number of players and staff of Floriana walk out, go through intense contract re-negotiations, and be accused (and suspended) over allegations of match-fixing.
Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed; at least that was the conclusion that “fox in the box” Francis Jeffers came to after just two games for the Greens.
In fact, as our last Floriana report was being posted up onto the website heralding Franny’s arrival, he was already rumoured to be walking out of the door. Floriana CEO Stephen Speed put the departure down to Jeffers failure to “adapt to the team’s style of play and to the Maltese lifestyle.” Clearly, being paid 7,000 Euros for two weeks of football in Malta is not all it would appear to be.
One internet-troll at a particularly low-ebb decided to make a fake Twitter account for Jeffers. This landed the striker in a lot of bother with Floriana, the Maltese press and the island as a whole:
“Maybe I should of accepted that place in #imacelebrity because I have now left malta… that was the worst league/club I’ve been involved with” @OfficialJeffers
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so some crumbs of comfort can be taken from such an episode.
Adding to the particularly choppy Mediterranean waters are players Aaron Brown and Jermain Brincat. Brincat was suspended for three matches at the start of November for suspected match-rigging; and Aaron Brown had his contract terminated by the management despite only signing for the club (as part of Vaughan’s takeover of Floriana) in August.
Even after UEFA lifted the sanction on Floriana as regards prize money for participation in the Europa League, this prize money was deposited in court, due to a garnishee order from previous Floriana President Johann Said.
Lest we forget, some kudos must go to Floriana manager Stephen Azzopardi. After an abysmal start he has guided the team to mid-table stability with the Greens now sitting in 7th with five wins, five draws and five losses.
But more turmoil is set to come as the debt collectors creep ever closer.
The club’s top earners, Sunday Wasiu and Aman Verma, have been informed that they will be leaving at the end of the year. Earning 4,000 and 3,200 Euros a week respectively, it seems the books are far from balanced, regardless of the lifting of UEFA sanctions. Transfers involving Tyronne Farrugia and Thomas Paris are believed to involve fees of 15-20,000 Euros being owed to former clubs; and Maltese club Mosta are also said to be complaining to the FA over failure to pay deposits regarding loanees Kane Farrugia and Jonathan Debono.