The Gibraltar National League has been reduced to 15 teams after Gibraltar Phoenix confirmed they were no longer intending to enter the league this season.
Photo © Rough and Ready
Phoenix, who came 5th in the Premier Division last season, are not believed to have been under any great financial pressure, but with their owners looking to sell up, and no prospective buyers coming forward, the club have chosen to withdraw from the league.
Unlike other clubs believed to be in severe financial difficulty, Phoenix are believed to have ensured all their players had their last month’s wages paid, to ensure that players weren’t left out of pocket – however for a number of players, they will have little time to find a new club before the season starts.
Phoenix had signed a number of players in the summer, including Tito De Torres, Alan Parker and German Cortes, which other locals such as Jayce Consigliero, Lee Coombes and Jeremy Lopez were set to continue at the club after playing for them last season. Today’s news ends another chapter, and seemingly closes the book for now at least, in what has been a very up and down few seasons for the club.
In 2013, the club were promoted to the Premier Division, alongside what was then College Europa (now Europa FC). However, while College Europa won the Rock Cup and finished fourth, Phoenix ended the 14 game season bottom, having failed to pick up a single point, scoring only nine times, and most notably conceding 32 goals in two games against Lincoln in a week. The club had seen an exodus of players to other clubs in the division, and were struggling at times to even get 11 players on the pitch.
The club then had to rebuild on and off the pitch, and after narrowly missing out on the play-offs in 2015-16, Phoenix did a league and Chestertons Cup double in 2016-17, signalling their return to the top flight. The club fared much better in the Premier Division in the two seasons there, finishing sixth in 17-18 and fifth in 18-19, reaching the semi-finals of the Rock Cup last season as well.
Today’s news means that from the first two weeks of fixtures that had been announced, games against Leo on Saturday 17th and Gibraltar United on Friday 30th August will now be cancelled.