You must be wondering how Malaga could have financial trouble given that owner Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani has already ploughed millions into the club, propelling the Andalusians into the top four of La Liga. Well Al-Thani isn’t exactly prompt when it comes to paying bills. Recently relegated Villarreal are owed money for the sale of Santi Cazorla, whilst players and staff have had the payment of wages and salaries delayed.
The recent departure of general manager Fernando Hierro has brought the financial situation of the club back into the spotlight. Hierro claims he has left for personal reasons but press speculation is that the former Real Madrid man was unhappy at not being paid and had been at loggerheads with Al-Thani for some time now. The favourite to replace Hierro is another former Blanco, Jorge Valdano, suggesting that the money is still available, which is in total contradiction to what is being reported. Even so, the fans need to hear a new statement of intent from Al-Thani before further murmurings of discontent set in.
With Champions League qualification now secured for next term, the expectation is that Malaga would push on this summer and invest heavily in new players to make sure they can continue their success into the 2012-13 season. However, unless Malaga pay money that they owe, the LFP could be forced to intervene with severe penalties.
They also need to comply with the new UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations, whilst expulsion from the Champions League could be a possibility if they cannot organise current money owed for transfers over the summer. Malaga are having trouble – but what does the future hold?
Al-Thani has already put so much money into the club that it’s unlikely he will allow them to reach harmful levels of financial difficulty, we know that. He even gave a glimpse into the plans last summer.
“We have a detailed plan for the future. Our goal is to make Malaga one of the biggest clubs around in Spain. We want to play Champions League football, or at least Europa League. There's no limit to our ambition.”
Unfortunately, the last part of the statement is already showing signs of falling apart at the seams. The final instalment of the €21m move for Cazorla is owed to Villarreal and their President Fernando Roig, along with other clubs that are owed money, are taking action. It’s not just the problems with money that are hitting the club, the name of this proud club is being dragged through the dirt. The summer will be spent not only trying to bring in talent, but also repair a reputation.
Recruitment is clearly something that Malaga will press on with this summer. Al-Thani has previously said that world stars such as Wesley Sneijder, Samuel Eto’o and Raul Gonzalez were interested in signing for Los Boquerones. None of them did, but it got tongues wagging across the continent. Malaga were a major player in the transfer market and few would be able to challenge their financial prowess. What becomes of this summer though?
Malaga need strengthening. I personally think they were somewhat fortunate that no team really grasped that 4th league position with both hands – and I think that manager Manuel Pellegrini knows it too. He knows the team needs new blood and I’m sure he knows who he wants this summer. But with a growing sense that Malaga are struggling to pay players, how many of those targets are going to be angling for a move to La Rosaleda?
This summer will provide a good indication of how the situation truly is at Malaga. A period of austerity and question marks will be raised. A summer of lavish signings and big money will only provoke what we thought last summer – Malaga want to challenge the big boys. But, in light of doubts raised over their financial organisation, will they actually graduate to this level next season?