Jesmond Abela, better known as il-Hutch, has been ousted from his role as vice-chairman of the government’s sports agency.
Sources close to SportMalta, the umbrella government agency responsible for the management of all the country’s public sports facilities, told The Shift that Prime Minister Robert Abela had given direct instructions to Education Minister Clifton Grima to remove Abela from his post.
Abela was involved in helping disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat get elected chairman of Malta’s new premier club football association – a position that Muscat is using to whitewash his reputation, albeit in an environment regularly linked to money laundering.
Abela was not nominated for the post of the vice-chairman of SportMalta, a post the Hibernians FC team manager had occupied since 2017. He was replaced by Matthew Pisani, a former water polo player and a close friend of Minister Grima.
Sources told The Shift that following the premier clubs’ move to attempt to renew the disgraced former prime minister’s reputation by placing him in a public position despite Robert Abela’s direct intervention with a number of football club presidents to lobby against his nomination, the current prime minister has cut off all contacts with those working in Muscat’s favour.
Instructions were also given to investigate the government job il-Hutch was given at government agency Projects Plus in 2017. Abela was given an indefinite government contract as a ‘specialist’ placed on an annual salary of some €50,000, which The Shift reported after he failed to turn up for work for more than a year.
He claimed injury but had no problem attending his football club’s events internationally while too weak to visit his desk. He was responsible for coordinating a project related to the construction of a new ground for Hibernians FC in Kordin, but the project never took off.
His daughter, Yanika Abela, was also given a comfortable government salary at the Lands Authority through political connections in Silvio Schembri’s ministry.
While her father could not attend work, he was busy helping then Labour candidate Chris Bonnet in his bid for a parliamentary seat as a coordinator of his electoral campaign in Paola.
The new SportMalta board is chaired by university lecturer Andrew Decelis, who replaced former Labour MP Luciano Busuttil.