Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani and his family will now have to seek new legal counsel after the firm Baker McKenzie announced on Thursday that they would no longer be representing the family in the case brought forward by the Malaga CF Association of Minority Shareholders against the Qatari majority owners of the club a year ago.
The consequences of this new development, which comes just before the sheikh and his sons Nasser, Rakan and Nayef were expected to testify from the Spanish embassy in Qatar, are not yet clear. It is expected to mean a further delay in the investigation, as the Al-Thani family will now have to designate new legal representation or wait for one to be assigned to them.
The reasons given to this newspaper by sources within the law firm for the split are "disagreements over the defence strategy".
The person who has led the defence so far is experienced criminal lawyer Jesús Santos, a specialist in crimes involving fraud. Among his most notable achievements was leading the defence of the Partido Popular in the Gürtel case. He also advised Cristiano Ronaldo when the Portuguese star was accused of tax fraud.
This isn't the first time that the Al-Thanis have changed law firm. Although this is the first time they have had to seek new lawyers for this case, during previous litigation they have moved from one law firm to another on up to three occasions (even simultaneously).
On this occasion, the Al-Thanis require a considerable change in fortunes, having seen every one of their appeals so far denied by judge María de los Ángeles Ruiz González.
The Al-Thanis currently find themselves firmly on the sidelines, having been replaced at the helm of the club by a judicial administrator and having their property and shares in Spain frozen.