surinenglish

Still no sign of any viability plan as city hall joins growing condemnation of Sheikh Al-Thani

Sheikh Al-Thani was the main topic of discussion at the Malaga council meeting held on Tuesday.
Sheikh Al-Thani was the main topic of discussion at the Malaga council meeting held on Tuesday. / Migue Fernández
  • Almost a fortnight has passed since Malaga informed La Liga of the club's plan to balance the books but very little has materialised

  • The club president has attracted criticism from all sides at city hall as a vote stops short of stripping the consession for building the new Academy

Despite progress last month when the club outlined its strategy to avoid severe financial problems, not much has changed around Malaga CF in the last fortnight. In fact, not much is happening at all around the offices at La Rosaleda as the majority of the decision-making is being made elsewhere, either by club president Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani, or by his increasing army of external advisers.

Last week, SUR in English reported that the club's legal advisor, Joaquín Jofre, said that the viability plan, which had been presented to La Liga days before, was already being implemented. However, a fortnight later, there is little evidence of this. Besides renegotiating defender Luis Hernández's contract to decrease his wage packet but increase the length (and working on a similar deal for Juanpi), many of the club's expenses from their time as a first-division team remain the same. Likewise, no new commercial deals have been signed.

La Liga will be checking on progress imminently and if the books aren't balanced by December, the club is likely to be hit with sanctions in the second half of the season. Worse still, the club could go under.

Damning council session

Not only have the fans been calling the management of Al-Thani into question, so have councillors at Malaga city hall. At Tuesday's meeting, all parties represented (PP, PSOE, Adelante Málaga and Ciudadanos) unanimously condemned the sheikh's "lack of transparency and ethics".

They also voted to remove the sheikh's name from a roundabout next to La Rosaleda shopping centre but fell short of stripping the club of the concession to build its new Academy in Arraijanal close to the city's airport. "Our concern is unanimous but our ability to take action [in this regard] is limited," said Ciudadanos councillor Noelia Losada.

Work on the site has remained at a standstill for almost a year after constructors Bilba downed tools when funding dried up. Phase one is complete on the three-pitch complex but work cannot restart until the club has freed up the nearly 4.5 million euros it is set to gain from the sale of the only land it owns (to the University of Malaga) at El Viso.

Contracts for family members

Another issue highlighted in the session was that of the salaries and expenses of Al-Thani's children. On Monday, the Association of Minority Shareholders joined the debate and called for these payments to be stopped.

It is believed that none of Al-Thani's children are currently living in the area and the association argues that this measure would help to "safeguard the club's financial future".

The statement directly referenced the expenses the association believes should be stopped, from "rent payments for houses and parking spaces" to "vehicle leases".

However, as yet, no action has been taken and Al-Thani continues to maintain both his silence and his distance.