The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Darren Debono, facing fuel smuggling charges, on committee of Maltese Premier League club

Wednesday, 19 June 2019, 14:52 Last update: about 2 months ago

Darren Debono, who is facing charges of fuel smuggling in Italy, has been elected to the committee of the Maltese Premier League side Senglea Athletic FC.

Debono was arrested on the island of Lampedusa in October 2017 and was subsequently charged in connection with a fuel trafficking operation involving Libya, Italy and Malta. He has since been released on bail and last November was allowed to return to Malta after being released from house arrest in Sicily due to delays in the commencement of his trial.

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Debono joined Senglea Athletic FC’s committee in the club’s Annual General Meeting earlier this month, with NET Television’s Replay, One TV’s L-Argument, and TVM Sport all reporting his appointment even though his name is absent from the club’s official post-AGM announcement.

He is however pictured (above) on the club’s Facebook page alongside club President Rueben Debono, former Hibernians goalkeeper and Qormi FC coach Mario Muscat, and UEFA Pro Licence coach Steve Vella, the latter two having signed with the Premier League club to lead them into the coming season.

Sources within the Malta Football Association told The Malta Independent that they were aware of Debono’s entry into the club’s committee and told this newsroom that the association is yet to approve the coming season’s club committees, but will be doing so in around two weeks.

“If he has a criminal record, he cannot be on the committee. He has no criminal record yet as far as we know but the alleged criminality is huge”, the sources said about Debono.

The MFA is also scrutinising all those who wish to join any football club in the island, the sources noted.

TVM Sport described there being an “intimate friendship” between Darren Debono and club President Rueben Debono, who is a notary by profession.  TVM Sport noted that the club is looking to seriously invest in strengthening their squad for the upcoming season.

The club president also said on Replay Ikompli, which airs on NET FM, that Debono will have “an important role” within the club and will be “more than just a committee member”.  The president said that he had been approached by Debono, who said that he would like to help the club in the best way possible.

Replay reported that it seems like Darren Debono will be one of the crucial members of the club to attract a number of promising Maltese players to the club along with other renowned and established Premier League players.

Darren Debono is not a new face to the Maltese football scene, having represented Malta at international level 56 times between 1996 and 2002 and having had long spells playing with established clubs Sliema Wanderers and Valletta FC. 

Senglea Athletic meanwhile are gearing up for their third consecutive season in the BOV Premier League after an impressive second half of the season propelled them to 10th place in the 14-team league and hence to safety from relegation.

 

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