Ħamrun Spartans CEO Marcel Bonnici has defended Joseph Portelli’s attempt to play for the club, stating it would be an emotional fulfilment of the club owner’s childhood dream.
Bonnici made this statement in an interview that the Spartans released two trailers for on a day that Portelli’s request to be registered as a footballer was rejected by the Malta Football Association.
“So many things have been said but it was all about an unfulfilled childhood dream,” he said. “[Joseph Portelli] is investing so much money, he is making so many people happy and he is raising the standards of Maltese football. All he is asking for in return is ten minutes on the ground.”
Bonnici compared Portelli’s unorthodox request to when then Roma player Alessandro Florenzi ran into the stands in 2014 to celebrate a goal with his grandmother.
“It’s a simple request which shows the value we give emotions. Many people think we only care about money but the truth is we care about football as a way to transit emotions to Ħamrun Spartans supporters.”
“These emotions will then transform themselves into results, the likes of which Maltese football has never seen.”
View this post on Instagram
Joseph Portelli, the 43-year-old owner of construction firm J. Portelli Projects, took over Ħamrun Spartans in 2020 and immediately led them to their first Malta Premier League victory in 30 years.
Ħamrun Spartans slipped to fourth the following season, with Hibernians winning the league, but are well on course to win this league and are currently 11 points clear at the top of the table.
They also performed admirably at this year’s UEFA Europa Conference League, knocking out Alashkert, Velez Mostar and Levski Sofia, before eventually losing to FK Partizan in the final match before the group stage.
Portelli, 43, resigned as Ħamrun Spartans president ahead of the team’s expected league victory so as to allow his club to throw him on in a game once the trophy had been secured. The MFA rejected his player registration request but Ħamrun Spartans can appeal this decision.
Do you think Joseph Portelli should be allowed to play for Ħamrun Spartans?