De La Torre and Sheikh Al-Thani celebrating champions league qualification in May. Álvaro Cabrera
The Mayor of Malaga has said this week that the owner of Malaga CF, the Qatari billionaire Sheikh Al-Thani, must address his obligations at the Club.
In an interview with the radio station Onda Cero Malaga, Francisco de la Torre commented: “Hopefully, the owner (the Sheikh) will live up to the responsibilities. He must deal with them.
“The effort he has made up until now is appreciated, but he must also maintain it, even though the Club must manage its costs so that they are as sustainable as possible. The existing obligations must be addressed with ‘Hacienda’ (the tax office), with the players...”
The Mayor was speaking in response to a line of questioning regarding the Club’s ongoing economic difficulties which have resulted in payments being delayed to players and suppliers, the tax authorities embargoing the Martiricos outfits’ accounts, and UEFA, European football’s governing body, withholding prize money.
When Sheikh Al-Thani effectively turned off the ‘cash tap’ at the end of last season, for reasons which have never been explained, Malaga CF found itself unable to pay its outstanding tax bill of some seven million euros and the authority (‘Hacienda’) said it had no option other than to block the Club’s bank accounts.
Ever since that point, negotiations have been under way to have the embargo lifted - negotiations in which Malaga has argued that it has taken considerable measures to overcome its cash-flow problems and that it is now on the “right track.”
Of those talks, in which he was involved, to obtain the necessary paperwork to open the accounts, Francisco de la Torre said in the radio interview: “The attempts with ‘Hacienda’ weren’t successful because it was impossible to argue [with their point]. One can’t say it’s black when it’s white; we couldn’t say everything was up-to-date when the players were still owed money. It was impossible to get the [required] documentation.”
It was not just Malaga CF’s financial situation on which the Mayor spoke out, he also expressed concerns about the first team’s ability to participate, and be successful, in three major competitions simultaneously with such a limited squad.
“The team is performing brilliantly in Champions … . but Malaga needs to think about a possible widening of the squad to be able to take on the League, Champions... I will try to provide, in the most constructive way possible, my ideas, my suggestions, and try to influence and pressure, in the best sense of the word, so that this is possible,” he said.
The Mayor’s comments came as Malaga CF prepares to begin a non-stop run of matches. From tomorrow until the end of the year, the squad faces 11 games scheduled in 37 days, meaning there will be one every three days on average.