Malaga’s economic reality

Malaga’s operating budget for next season is set to be slashed to around €50m, according to the club’s executive advisor Francisco Martin Aguilar, a substantial drop on the previous two campaigns where around €150m was spent.

“We will be working on a budget of some €50m, so we will still have a competitive squad that can cause a few surprises, but we will need to be calm, patient,” he recently told Deportes101 TV.

Al-Thani is understood to have put another €7m into the Costa del Sol outfit at the end of last year to stave off discontent among players, who were still owed money from the end of last season, but he is unwilling to invest any further sums of money at least until there is a balance of income and expenditure. The new economic reality will translate into many changes at La Rosaleda as far as planning for the 2013-14 term goes, and Malaga’s budget is now likely to be more that of a mid-table La Liga team than one that has just had a successful Champions League campaign.

It is, therefore, inevitable that Los Blanquiazules will be forced to sell several star men this summer, with the money earned through transfers, together with the income from the Champions League and television rights, destined to help pay off salaries. High earners such as Isco, Jeremy Toulalan, Jesus Gamez, Joaquin Sanchez and Martin Demichelis have all been linked with moves in recent weeks, while it is unlikely that Malaga will take up the option to keep loan players Pedro Morales, Oguchi Onyewu, Roque Santa Cruz, Diego Lugano and Lucas Piazon.

In addition, there are other bonuses still owed to players from the Champions League run, where Manuel Pellegrini’s men were controversially knocked out in the quarter-finals by Borussia Dortmund, and a final payment of €4m from a previous Bankruptcy Act, which is due in August. There are also club employees’ future salaries to take into consideration, not forgetting money owed to creditors for catering, travel, security etc, while the contract still has to be finalised where Malaga had agreed to pay UNESCO €1.5m per season for wearing the organisation’s logo on their blue and white shirts.

Ideally, this financial necessity will have all been achieved before June 4's hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, against a one-year ban from European football imposed by UEFA last December over unpaid taxes.

Although the club’s spending power with regard to new players is by no means curtailed, it is understandable Malaga now prefer to err on the side of caution to try and prevent a recurrence of the UEFA ban, which was in reference to the Financial Fair Play regulations. However, there could be some good cheer on the horizon in the shape of foreign investment as negotiations with the BlueBay Group hotel chain to become one of the main sponsors for next season are still continuing.

Overall though, the drop in investment from the owner is a situation that has seen a complete reversal of the hopes and aspirations of less than 12 months ago, but Aguilar refuses to blame Al-Thani for the current state of affairs.

“It is not fair to criticise the Sheikh when he came here to make us dream, to do something important, and now he is made out to be the bad guy. It seems somewhat unfair. He shaped this Malaga but unfortunately, due to circumstances, he knows he is not able to carry it out,” said Aguilar, before referring to boss Manuel Pellegrini’s now-confirmed departure.

“If Pellegrini has been a success here and has also done it in European football then it is thanks to Malaga. If he leaves I’ll wish him all the best, every success, because he deserves that and much more.”