Pellegrini’s Super Málaga and the Sheikh

It was nearly 3 years ago when “el salvador” arrived on his boat to Costa del Sol as a new hope for many Andalusian souls. The summer of 2010 will be remembered as a rebirth for Málaga Club de Fútbol. Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani, the messiah.

When the Qatari became the new president of the club in July 2010, he passed the management baton over to Manuel Pellegrini, and soon La Rosaleda’s green carpet was lit up by a shining sky, with Van Nistelrooy, Toulalan, Mathijsen, Sergio Sanchez, Monreal, Buonanote, Joaquin, Isco, Willy Caballero and Santi Cazorla among its stars.

Sports prophecies came true sooner than expected. By the end of 2011/2012 season, Malaga CF achieved the best results since its origins in the first decades of the 20th century. For the first time in its history, the team ended up in fourth place in La Liga, just behind Real Madrid C.F., F.C. Barcelona and Valencia C.F., which earned them a place in the UEFA Champions League 2012-2013.

However, economic promises were not to have Al-Thani’s blessings that easily. In July 2012, midfielder Santi Cazorla, centre back Joris Mathijsen and forwards Rondón and Van Nistelrooy reported the non-payment of their salaries to AFE (the Spanish Football Players Association). C.A. Osasuna and Villareal C.F. also demanded that the club settle its debts for the transfers of Cazorla and Nacho Monreal.

Santi Cazorla jumps

Cazorla didn’t stick around for too long to see how things turned out before jumping ship to Arsenal.

By autumn 2012, a 300,000 Euro fine was imposed on the club by UEFA for payment irregularities regarding player transfers, club employees and other social or tax administration authorities, as established by UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations. The Andalusian club could be facing a one year suspension from the Champions league if they do not reorganize their financial situation before March 31st .

And so the winter transfer market arrived for a team flooded in a sea of doubts. The result: Malaga mourns the departure of Monreal to join the big family in Arsenal while Guru Pellegrini confesses that “there’s no way to hide the club’s situation”.

There is much speculation about the Qatari’s role at this point. Evidence seems to demonstrate that Al-Thani may be hiding some dark intentions. There exist several luxurious projects signed by the Sheikh, including a leisure harbour in Marbella and a sports center in Malaga, demanding the city hall for building permissions. The city’s authorities haven’t approved these plans yet and rumours start flying over La Rosaleda: Al Thani could be using extortion as a means to achieve his target. To put it simply, “sign da ting” and we’ll all celebrate it watching Malaga’s victories. The team’s fans are surely willing to see the scaffoldings settling on Marbella’s seaside.

One possible satisfactory ending to this saga for Malaga fans could come from an unlikely source. Since September 2012, several newspapers – including the prestigious Los Angeles Times, have reported that David Beckham was looking at the possibility of buying up 75% of the shares of the Andalusian team together with former US international Alexi Lalas.  Unfortunately for fans of Malaga, there’s not any official confirmation to this spicy project.

The massive number of criticisms lodged by the team’s fans after the departure of Monreal have only had one answer from the Qatari sheikh : “I would like to thank everbody and all the critics, either positive or negative. Greetings”.  Let’s give you a pin and cap for that.

Notwithstanding, the team players have come to the agreement not to pressure managers, and to concentrate and be optimistic towards the final stretch of the season. Pellegrini and his boys have been putting in great performances in recent months. They currently sit in fourth place in La Liga, and on February 19th they will be playing against Porto in the Champions League Round of 16.  Go Malaga! Vamos!

Marta will be writing from time to time about things happening in La Liga's world. She is an unconditional supporter of Atletico de Madrid C.F, the Spanish national football team, and fair play. She has recently also become a fan of the Premier League and 4-match-watching marathons on Sundays. Marta also runs a school for Spanish in Tours called Hola Lola.
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