Gibraltar Phoenix withdraw from the National League

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.


Pay up or Leave for Gibraltar United

The Gibraltar FA have allegedly informed Gibraltar United that if their debts aren’t fulfilled by next week then they will be removed from the Gibraltar National League.

April 3rd 2017 was the date news broke out of Gibraltar United partnering up with Victor Pablo Dana, CEO & Founder of Heritage Sports Holdings in Dubai and Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado, a move which was expected to provide more competition at the top of the league.

After finishing 4th place in 2017-18, one point behind St Joseph’s who qualified for Europa League, the following season saw a poor run of results before Christmas would ultimately prevent Gib Utd from any chance of competing higher up the table. However, they found themselves in the Gibtelecom Rock Cup final, which they would go on to lose 3-0 to Europa -and miss out on Europa League qualification for the second straight season.

While on the pitch results were good, financially, Gibraltar United were going through a tough time. Late payments were a regular occurrence for the players in 2017/18 and it would gradually get worse as the seasons went on from a few days to a few weeks and now a few months.

On the contrary to our post a few weeks back, we received confirmation that Pablo Dana is still within Gibraltar United but looking to sell the club. Leading up to the Gibtelecom Rock Cup final, players were still missing wages and still to this day, have received nothing which is now adding up to three months.

Past players such as Chino, Michael Negrette & Tito De Torres have confirmed to FG that they are missing two months wages while the players who are missing more than two months wages went on strike ,which meant last year’s squad didn’t turn up to train, while this season’s new recruits did.

FG understands that the new players had June’s house rent covered, but would have to pay extra so they could sort themselves out from then on. Still with no payments, players have been evicted from their houses and forced to cram into an overcrowded house. Unpaid wages mean that not only can the players not afford to feed themselves, certain individuals are sold a dream and cannot send money back to feed their own families.

The Gibraltar FA was informed of the current financial situation with Dana, signing a letter agreeing to pay all his debts – and if nothing is done before Monday 12th August then Gibraltar United will be removed from the league.

At the time of writing, we have been made aware that no payments have been made and certain individuals in the club have been told that it will remain that way.

Gibraltar United answered FG’s question – “The club and the GFA are currently in discussion. Once those discussions are over we will be in a position to make a statement.”

FG also reached out to the Gibraltar FA but at the time of publication were yet to receive a response.


Lynx & Mons Calpe kick off Gibraltar National League

The opening game of the new Gibraltar National League will see Lynx take on Mons Calpe, last season’s league champions Lincoln Red Imps face rivals Europa and Europa League representatives St Joseph’s are pitted against College 1975.

Lincoln & Europa will play out the Pepe Reyes Memorial Cup for another successive year on Sunday 11th August at 20:30. After the traditional curtain-raiser of Gibraltar football, Lynx & Mons Calpe will get the Gibraltar National League underway.

Below is the full list of Matchday 1 fixtures

  • 12th August – Lynx vs Mons Calpe
  • 13th August – Manchester 62 vs FC Boca Juniors
  • 14th August – Lions Gibraltar vs Europa Point (18:15)
  • 14th August – Gibraltar United vs FC Olympique
  • 15th August – Glacis United vs Bruno Magpies
  • 16th August – Europa vs Lincoln Red Imps
  • 17th August – Leo FC vs Gibraltar Phoenix
  • 19th August – St Joseph’s vs College 1975


De Barr bids farewell to Gibraltar football

Earlier this week Tjay De Barr posted a farewell message on his social media accounts as he set out on his travels to link up with his new club Real Oviedo.

In March of this year, we announced that 19-year old Tjay De Barr would be joining Real Oviedo at the end of the season. His club at the time, Europa FC, wrote a statement shortly after stating that an agreement had been met and the Gibraltar international would be leaving the club and joining Oviedo after the Europa League campaign.

Tjay recorded a total of 2342 minutes played across all competitions in his debut season, considerably more than his 2017/18 season with Lincoln which saw him play only 392 minutes. Putting the ball in the back of the net came easy for him aswell, scoring 21 goals in 29 games – another improvement from his 1 goal in 16, the season before.

Europa beat Sant Julia 6-3 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the Europa League, with Tjay scoring in the second leg of the tie but were eliminated in the first round by Legia Warszawa.

De Barr wrote this message on his social media accounts: “A great season comes to an end, it’s been a special year where a lot has happened and I’m grateful to everyone who I’ve come across this passed year. A new chapter which will be filled with new experiences, not just football but in life. A big thank you to those who have been part of my journey so far. Thank you to Europa FC for treating me so well in the time I’ve spent with the club. To managers & teammates who I’ve shared changing rooms with a big thank you to all. There’s too many people to thank but I’d like to give a special thanks to my family who have and will always be there for me and continue to show it day in day out. Going to miss every single one of you. To the boys, will miss you all my brothers and hope to see you all very soon. The dream continues.”

His former club Europa would follow it up by saying: “All the best to Tjay De Barr . One of our best and brightest leaves the club today. We can’t thank you enough for your service last season, the door is always open. Our loss is Real Oviedo’s gain. You will achieve your goals we are sure of that. Believe!”

Everyone at FG wishes Tjay De Barr the best of luck at Real Oviedo.


Hankins: “If it wasn’t for Lincoln, I wouldn’t be where I am today”

After securing a move to Las Palmas earlier this month, FG caught up with Jaylan Hankins, as the keeper discusses the move, his gratefulness to his former club Lincoln, and potential aspirations at national level.

Photo © Tinta Amarilla

Hankins move to the Spanish side is a big moment for the teenager, and even he didn’t expect the interest when it first came in: “My first thought was this is a joke I honestly could not believe that such a big club in Europe was interested in me, so I did not really put a lot of interest in it and carried on training how I was doing. When I saw that it was actually serious, and things were progressing, I was just excited and ready for the challenge that was awaiting here in Las Palmas.”

The keeper spent much of his life at Lincoln, featuring a number of times in the first time and catching the eye. We asked the 18-year old how grateful he is for the club who developed him: “I’ve been in Lincoln since the age of 5 and I’ve been the happiest person on earth the past 14 years at the club. Obviously there are ups and down but that’s part of football, but everyone in the club know that I will always support them no matter where I am, because if it was not for them I wouldn’t be where I am today”

The move abroad could help the keeper break through at national level, especially if he performs in the various teams at Las Palmas, who all play at a decent level in Spain. Hankins is very level-headed about it though: “At the moment I am focused on Las Palmas – if the opportunity were to come I would be really honoured and I will try my best to get there. if it’s now or in the next couple of years I do not know, that’s not up to me I’m just focused on getting better”


Europa draw against Legia Warsaw, while Saints eventually fall to Rangers

Europa earned a very credible 0-0 draw against Legia Warsaw tonight, while earlier in the week, St Joseph’s fought valiantly but eventually fell to defeat against Rangers.

Photo © Europa FC/C Correa Photography

Both teams went into the week with home games against the bigger European sides, with Saints first up on Tuesday against the Scottish giants. A decent crowd, aided by 900+ Rangers fans, saw the Gers run out comfortable 4-0 winners, although it took until the second half for Saints resistance to be broken down.

Two quickfire second half goals from Ryan Jack, and Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo put the game to bed essentially, and Steven Gerrard’s side added gloss to their victory with efforts just going over the line from Borna Barisic, and Alfredo Morelos. Saints now know that realistically their European journey will be over next week, after a visit to Ibrox.

Meanwhile, tonight saw Europa go toe-to-toe with an established European side in Legia Warsaw, 13-time champions of Poland and a familiar name to those who watch European football. In an impressive performance, which saw Europa have an almost level share of possession, and more efforts, the two sides ultimately could not be separated, and Europa go to Warsaw knowing they haven’t conceded an away goal, and have every chance of an historic progression to the next round.

Rafael Escobar started with a couple of changes from the team who beat Sant Julia 4-0 last week, including the return of Alex Quillo from suspension, while Ethan Jolley came in as one of four Gibraltarian’s starting the game. And it was Jolley who was arguably man of the match, as he put in a full-blooded performance for 90 minutes, getting stuck in with the more physically imposing Polish side. Now Jayce Olivero has joined, competition at left-back is fierce at Europa, but Jolley put in a performance that deserves him keeping that spot next week.

Both teams had the ball in the net, but the offside flag denied both teams – however both teams also had a big chance go wide in a second half which saw both teams throw caution to the wind at the end. With a good crowd in attendance, and an estimated 40,000 people watching the official stream of the game, many eyes were on Europa, and they impressed with their play, especially in midfield.

The result additionally gives Gibraltar a further coefficient boost, helping to further solidify their position of holding four European spots in future seasons – should Europa qualify next week, they face either KuPS of Finland, or Belarussian side Vitebsk – the Finns coming out 2-0 victors today.


Liam Walker interview post-Sant Julia

After the 4-0 win vs Sant Julia last week, we caught up with Europa midfielder Liam Walker, who put in a man of the match performance against the Andorrans, scoring one and assisting two other goals in the comfortable victory.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

What are your thoughts after your man of the match performance for Europa in the 4-0 win against Sant Julia?

Walker – Obviously on a personal note happy to get 2 assist and a goal to help the team but the most importantly very happy with the result and going through to the next round, but most of all with the team’s performance, I think it was a complete performance from the whole team. We kept a clean sheet which shows we were defensively very solid and we scored 4 goals which shows we did the right things going forward and i think the best team on the day won.

It took a bit of time for the first goal to come, and you played a big part in Adrian Gallardo’s opener with a great bit of skill before playing a perfect through ball – was it a case of patience from the team until the goal came which gave Europa the away goal lead?

Walker – “I think until that first goal come, Sant Julia were sitting quite deep and just trying to play on the counter attack so it wasn’t easy to open the scoring, i feel we had a couple of good chances before the goal come but they managed to keep them out and then yeh the goal finally come, i remember it being a long ball in to me from Dayle and i was aware of having a slight bit of time to take the touch and then from there it all just come naturally,the flick over the player and then i took one more touch to get it out of my feet to then put the ball through to Adrian Gallardo who had made a great run and then finished it off even better with a cool finish. I think we knew at some point we would score so it was a case of waiting for that chance and then putting it away as Adri did and then that put us in the driving seat with the 2 away goals.”

We’d seen earlier in the week with Prishtina, and then near the end yesterday with Sant Julia and the late red card, about how a lack of discipline can see teams fall apart and cost them dearly. How important was it that even with some of the fouls coming in from the Andorran side, that Europa kept their calm and discipline throughout?

Walker – “Sending offs and being with a man or 2 down is massive in these games, it is something we keep going on about in the dressing room about being professional and keeping our discipline and having respect out on the pitch. As it showed in both games it was crucial the sending offs especially for Prishtina as at the time it was still 0-0, but St Josephs kept to their game plan and deserved to go through and for Sant Julia I think after their sending off they just gave up and I feel we ended the game a lot fitter than them.”

Next up is Legia Warsaw – what are your thoughts on playing the Polish side?

Walker – “As we know its going to be a tough game, they are a strong team with massive support. We know they are at the end of their pre season so they will be in good shape and i can imagine them being quite a physical side. We play the first leg at home were hopefully we fill the stadium with our fans who have been amazing support. We’ll be looking to take a positive result to the 2nd leg away, we will show them the respect we show to every other team but we will be going out on the pitch to win and to fight for the next round.”


Europa ease past Sant Julia

Liam Walker scored one and assisted two as Europa comfortably beat UE Sant Julia 4-0 this evening, 6-3 on aggregate, to progress into the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round.

The Greens made two changes to the side which lost the first leg 3-2 with Dayle Coleing & Tjay De Barr replacing Javi Munoz & Fernando Velasco – the hosts were also still without the suspended Alex Quillo.

Time-wasting from the Sant Julia goalkeeper in the opening five minutes set off a tone for the first half and after Europa’s wingers Juampe & De Barr were causing trouble, the visitors shifted to a five at the back formation.

Five minutes before half-time and Europa got their breakthrough as Liam Walker played in Adrian Gallardo who slotted the ball past the Sant Julia goalkeeper – two goals in two games for the Spanish striker.

Two minutes into the second half and Europa doubled their lead, Liam Walker once again the provider as his through ball found Tjay De Barr and he fired a low shot into the bottom corner.

Tjay should have got his brace shortly after but his close range shot went past the post after being set-up nicely by Juampe. Walker put the game to bed in the 78th minute after controlling the ball excellently in the box and smashed a shot past Kasparian.

Five minutes later and Sant Julia went down to 10 men as Jonny was sent off for a second bookable offence. Making his Europa League debut, Dayle Coleing made his first save in the 88th minute from a Sant Julia free-kick.

Europa made it 4-0 in added time as Juampe rounded the goalkeeper, dribbled past a defender and scored from close. An easy win in the end for the hosts, which proved to have broken a record in Gibraltar for the most combined goals scored by local clubs in one season in UEFA club competitions – combing Saints’ three goals with Europa’s six.

Next up for Europa is a first qualifying round tie against Legia Warsaw.


Pecci: “Next time they will think twice about talking negatively”

We caught up with St Joseph’s midfielder Cristian Pecci as he reflects on his side’s historic win over Prishtina, the dream tie against Rangers and much more.

Second half goals from Federico Villar & Juanfri secured St Joseph’s a historic 2-0 win over Prishtina to qualify for the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, Pecci reflected on the result – “It has been a historic victory for the club and the truthfully as a player I am proud of the team. We have, alongside the coaching staff, worked hard enough all year to have this reward.”

Prishtina went down to 9 men in 48 minutes after two red cards in a matter of seconds were given to Leotrim Bekteshi & Armend Dallku. We asked the Spanish midfielder how much of an impact the sanctions took on the game, “The red cards were important for us but I think that the opposing players lost their heads because they saw that they could not compete with us.”

After the game, quotes made from the Prishtina president surfaced on Twitter which stated that his side will easily beat St Joseph’s and were already preparing for Rangers in the next round – we asked how Pecci reacted to the news, “The truth is that they lacked the respect to speak negatively about us without knowing who we are and nowadays in football the first thing is to respect the whole world. I’m glad that their words are eaten and next time they will think twice about talking negatively about an opponent.”

Next up for St Joseph’s in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round is Scottish side Rangers next week – Pecci gave his view on the upcoming tie, “We have a very important match against a big club but we are going to go our all like the previous two matches and with the hard-work we are doing, we will surely make it difficult for them.”


Saints beat bad-tempered Prishtina to set up dream Rangers match

Goals from Fede Villar and Juanfri saw St Joseph’s beat a remarkably bad-tempered Prishtina 2-0 and set up a dream tie against Scottish side Rangers.

Photo © Rough and Ready

A mad minute just after half time from Prishtina saw both Leotrim Bekteshi and captain Armend Dallku sent off, and St Joseph’s, who had soaked up the pressure in the first half, took full advantage by scoring twice in the second half – although they had Ezequiel Rojas sent off late on for a foul.

From the off, Prishtina looked like a team more interested in harassing the officials than playing football and trying to get a goal – as early as the fourth minute Dallku, who as captain set the negative tone for his teammates, went off in a tirade of abuse at the Sammarinese linesman after he hadn’t given the Albanian a foul. The first half in truth saw little in the way of major chances – Francisco Mateo made a couple of good saves but wasn’t overly troubled.

Early in the second half was the turning point though. Leotrim Bekteshi, earlier booked, hauled down Boro as he was advancing up the pitch, and was shown a second yellow card. This clearly infuriated Prishtina, as their players surrounded the ref, led by their captain Dallku, who, although he had also been booked, was shown a straight red presumably for foul and abusive language. Suddenly, Saints had a two-man advantage and knew that Rangers were in sight.

It took until the 75th minute for Saints to make the advantage count, as a free kick whipped into the box found the head of Fede Villar – the former Mons man making no mistake to give Saints the lead. In the build up to that, Prishtina had picked up two additional bookings for dissent, and then managed a third booking for the same offence – they were lucky to end with nine men on the field.

The gaps on the pitch for Saints to expose became clear for all to see, and five minutes later, Pedrito’s cross was turned in by Juanfri to secure the win and the tie in Glasow. Raul Procopio, who will have angered local fans again by starting zero Gibraltarians, will understandably point to the result as vindication for his team choices – although Ryan Casciaro may have to come into defence after Rojas late red.

The final whistle sounded, and despite the best efforts of the Prishtina players and match officials to argue some of the decisions they felt went against them, St Joseph’s could celebrate a first ever European victory, and now have to prepare for Steven Gerrard’s side next week.