Athletes at the Matthew Micallef St. John sports complex in Marsa are often training in the dark due to long-running issues with stadium lighting, despite the promise of millions of euros of investment from the government’s SportMalta agency.
Following another blackout at the complex last week, Athletics Malta issued a statement to its members on Friday.
It noted delays in completing a new electricity substation in a neighbouring part of the complex, currently under construction by SportMalta.
SportMalta claimed the extension to the Marsa complex and the electricity substation upgrade would be completed in time for use in May’s Games of the Small States of Europe (GSSE).
However, the complex, along with several other projects, was not completed in time amid claims of mismanagement.
The lighting issues at the Marsa Athletics Track were made public by independent politician Arnold Cassola.
Cassola posted a video of an athlete using the track in pitch-black darkness, using only a handheld flashlight for illumination.
He compared the situation to a “third world [country].”
In its statement to members, Athletics Malta General Secretary Nicolai Portelli said, “Stadium lighting has been an issue for several years.”
He noted how, so far, only “interim measures” were implemented, “which are not sustainable.”
The construction of an electricity substation “commissioned by SportMalta within the [neighbouring] new complex,” which would ensure the reliability of supply, was completed but is not connected.
The new complex includes eight squash courts and a weightlifting hall.
The project formed part of an investment hailed by Sports Minister Clifton Grima ahead of the GSSE, which additionally included a €14 million Cottonera Sports Complex swimming pool, a still-incomplete €16 million pool in Victoria, Gozo, and a €3 million tennis complex in Pembroke.
All missed their completion deadlines.
In September, The Shift reported how the Chairman of SportMalta, Prof. Andrew Decelis, resigned just 12 months after taking the helm.
SportMalta officials and CEO Mark Cutajar remained silent on his resignation or who will take his place, fuelling claims of internal conflicts at the government agency.