Malta supporters club celebrates a special anniversary

Thursday 18 January 2024 14:00

The president of Manchester United's legendary supporters' club in Malta, Joe Tedesco, tells us about his country’s unique relationship with the Reds...

Sixty-five years as an official supporters’ club is an incredible achievement – what makes the relationship between United and Malta so special?
“The fact that we are the oldest standing Manchester United supporters’ club in the world, UK included, is probably the main reason for this special bond. Moreover, the foundation of the supporters’ club took place one year after Munich, hence the legacy of our own club is tightly knitted to that tragedy which changed the fortunes of Manchester United. Over all the years, many personalities connected to this institution – be it players, managers, executives, staff, fans – have made their way to Malta and tasted the passion we have here for this great football club. Nowadays, Visit Malta is also Manchester United’s official destination partner, so this has undoubtedly played another important role in enhancing things.”
The Malta delegation met United legend Gary Pallister before Sunday's match with Tottenham.
You attended the Spurs game to mark the anniversary with a pitchside reception – are there any other special events planned?
“At the beginning of this season, we issued a programme of events spanning the whole season. We launched our anniversary logo, organised a great interactive quiz, a weekend of indoor games for a charitable institution... and a United tattoo competition! During the week of our birthday we have a packed schedule. On Saturday 3 February, we kick off with a tree-planting event, during which 65 trees will be planted in the biggest park in Malta. On the same day we’ll set up a Munich-themed exhibition and hold a live MUTV podcast with an audience. On Sunday 4 February, we’ll have our annual Munich Remembrance Mass, followed by the launch of a supporters’ club hymn, a new website, and a magnificent virtual tour of our premises. Then on Monday 5 February, a big group leaves for Munich, where we go every year, to pay our respects at Trudering-Riem.”
How difficult is it to maintain support from generation to generation, given the popularity of the Premier League and its many teams?
“Living on an island very strongly connected to Anglo-Italian politics in the past, in my teens I only remember locals supporting English or Italian teams. Nowadays, with football so easily streamed on any device, support is globalised, and you can see quite a few Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich shirts. That phenomenon of support passed down from grandparents to parents to children is slowly fading away. Social media is one of the main reasons I attribute this to – young fans tend to get attracted to a football superstar and they follow the superstar more than a football team. Notwithstanding, the last 10 years have not been the best in United’s history, but the power of the brand still keeps the club at the very top. But I can sense that attracting young fans is getting harder.”

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Marc Skinner's squad is ready for the second half of the season, after a week in Malta for warm weather training.

So many fans visit Malta and speak so warmly of the hospitality – what makes Malta unique, in your eyes?
“Tourism is one of the main pillars of our economy. We depend a lot on it and hence we are born and bred in being polite and hospitable. When fans visit us, whether at our premises on a matchday or while on holiday, we try to give them a taste of Maltese hospitality. Word of mouth is the best advert, always, and nothing gives us more pleasure than reading United fans’ positive reviews on social media after having made contact with us. The island is rich in history and culture, has wonderful architecture, and we have around 300 days a year of sunshine.”
Our Malta supporters' club was formed in 1959, less than a year after the Munich Air Disaster.
How many members do you have? And how many of those watch games at your premises on a typical matchday?
“We get just over 1,000 paid members each season, including nearly 200 life members. We are also pleased to say that we have full, paid members from all continents. We also have an international membership scheme which is quite popular. Members from abroad receive our membership card and digital copies of our magazine, Echoes from Old Trafford. For last season’s Carabao Cup final we had the record biggest crowd ever – over 550 persons squeezed themselves inside our 350 square-metre hall. And hundreds had to find a different location! For the big games we usually get between 200 to 250 in. For the not-so-big games we manage 100. The atmosphere, irrespective of the crowd size, is always great. The regulars always make noise and make sure it’s a great place to watch a United game.”
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What does the future hold? What’s next after this 65th anniversary?

“Our biggest achievement ever will hopefully materialise in three years’ time, when we settle the loan we took to pay for our premises under the MUSC Malta Trust. We have paid seven instalments and have another three left. Being the owners of our premises has been the dream for many years. Hopefully this will come true and that will be our next big party after the 65th anniversary. We have a plan to refurbish our committee room, where all our memorabilia is displayed, and convert it into a museum which will give visitors an audio and visual journey through the supporters’ club’s history.”

For more information about MUSC Malta, visit