Super League Triathlon, the London-based organisers of a high-profile international triathlon event in Malta sponsored to the tune of €600,000 annually by the Malta Tourism Authority, will not divulge how much Xandru Grech, the son of former Labour’s deputy leader Louis Grech and the event’s local promoter, is receiving for his contribution.
Asked to declare the relationship between Grech and the organisers of the international event, a spokesman for Super League Holdings PTE Ltd said: “Mr Grech is only involved on a limited contract basis”.
Asked whether there were any side arrangements (contracts) between the company and Grech for fronting their sponsorship request with the Maltese government and to state how much the former Deputy Prime Minister’s son was paid for his involvement, the company did not reply.
“Unfortunately, we cannot answer as this forms part of contracts, which, as is standard practice for events and employment worldwide, is covered by confidentiality.”
While declining to go into details about the €600,000 in public funds being pumped annually into the event, the spokesman emphasised that this was “good value for money.”
“We are considerably cheaper than engaging other sports that could deliver comparable audiences, and they generally would not focus on delivering results specific to the host that we have and often putting money straight back into the host economy, organising mass participation events and delivering community outreach via multiple Olympic athletes,” the spokesman added.
In addition to the €600,000 received from the MTA for such an event, the triathlon costs some €1.3 million to stage and “Super League alone spends €400,000 directly in Malta,” according to the organisers.
Meanwhile, The Shift spoke to triathlon participants – international athletes who came to Malta for the event. “I decided last year that I would never return. Grech strutted around like this was his private party… as if knowing him was a privilege. Quite disgusting”.
Athletes said they had to pay a €60 participation fee on top of the MTA sponsorship from public funds. In addition, the event in Malta was also sponsored by another public entity – Air Malta. It is not yet known what amounts the national airline, on the brink of financial collapse, is forking out for the event.
For many years, the national airline was under the stewardship of Grech’s father, former Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech, as its chairman. When The Shift asked Super League Triathlon whether it was Xandru Grech who had obtained the MTA sponsorship for the event, no reply was received.
In a Right of Reply, Grech took exception to The Shift’s report, arguing that he was just engaged as part of a small team of people “to coordinate activities, meetings and logistics, promote the event and liaise with local councils and various communities”.
Documents given to the Public Accounts Committee, which is examining the list of sponsorships dished out by the MTA in 2018 that run into millions, specifically name Grech as the only contact person responsible for speaking on behalf of Super League Triathlon to get the necessary public funding for the two-day event.
Records and testimonies submitted to the parliamentary committee show that the tourism agency dealt only with Grech to arrange the €600,000 sponsorship deal for 2018.
Although details are only available for 2018, The Shift is informed that similar amounts were dedicated to the same sports event in 2019 and for another to be held later this October, totalling close to €2 million.
Super League Triathlon did not reply to questions on the number of years the MTA committed to funding the event.
The international organisation holding these events was set up recently, in 2017. One year later, it organised the first event in Malta with substantial help from public funds.
According to a statement issued by Super League Triathlon in August 2018 to announce the deal, Grech was “handling the commercial aspect” of the event.
The Shift has already revealed a secret €4.5 million contract to a private airline for millionaires, the dishing of millions in sponsorship for events organised by a small circle of friends close to the governing Labour Party and the rental of a villa by the MTA from the chairman’s father-in-law for half a million euro for 10 years.