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The downfall of Malaga restores the status quo in Spanish football
- Updated: 3 August, 2012
No one is quite sure of what is going to happen to Malaga, but it seems somewhat obvious to anyone with a passing interest in Spanish football that the Andaluz club are in turmoil.
The statement from the club provided on Thursday afternoon offered little to dampen down rumours, with millions owed to players, staff, fellow clubs and owners, Malaga’s first season in the Champions League looks set to be a disappointing one and a change in ownership still looks a possibility. To top it off the rumours of fines and possible relegation continue to exist.
The likes of Manuel Pellegrini, Santi Cazorla, Jeremy Toulalon and Weligton Oliveira have all spoken out in recent days over what effect the ownership situation has on their football club, but the focus should perhaps be on what effect their football club, or others of the same ilk, could have on Spanish football.
Only Villarreal have broken Barcelona and Real Madrid’s duopoly in the last eight years, and the Yellow Submarine have now sunk all the way into the Segunda, everyone except those who have loyalties in Catalunya and the capital desperately crave a new challenger. Valencia, the last team outside of the big two that won the league are crippled by debt, Deportivo have only just returned to the top flight after experiencing their own problems, and former competitors such as Real Sociedad and Sevilla are nowhere near.
Then along came Malaga. With the oil millions provided by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani of Qatar, the club from Andalusia looked to replicate the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City – invest heavily into playing staff whether it be fees or wages and do what it takes to turn his team into a profitable and competitive organisation.
It was the first time a project of this size took place in La Liga, and Malaga were see by many as the answer to La Liga’s problems – breaking Barca and Madrid’s iron grip on the Primera to offer a wakeup call to let them know they can’t simply get away with a two horse race every season.
The upside of a potential new Spanish superpower was seen as huge by many; if executed properly Malaga could be the team to get revenge on Madrid and Barcelona and the league would strengthen as a result. The bigger name players from lesser teams would have another option to stay in Spain rather than looking to Europe for competitive football. The soon-to-depart Santi Cazorla was in exactly that position last summer, despite offers from England, one of La Liga’s prized assets was kept in Spain.
Malaga had the potential to improve La Liga as a product, a third team that could afford the wages of star players and become a genuine threat in the Champions League. Unfortunately for the other seventeen teams that cannot compete financially, the problem would only be exacerbated, yet another team to snap up their players and outbid them in the transfer market.
The question of whether or not Malaga are good for La Liga becomes increasingly irrelevant after the recent statement strongly suggests expenditure will be cut, Al- Thani’s investment appears to be dwindling and the owners Twitter page of all places could be the greatest source of answers to why.
Despite nobly trying to put TV money distribution back on the agenda, Al-Thani’s comments weren’t taken seriously due to them being surrounded by potentially libellous claims of racism and corruption. Much like the last man to bring the issue up, Sevilla’s Jose Maria del Nido, the Sheikh’s words were conveniently swept under the carpet.
The potential of an oil backed football team in the top division of Spanish football may look good on the face of it, but it’s very clear the only real long term solution lies in collective sale TV money.
There will be those in Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao and the white and red section of Madrid breathing a sigh of relief over the current situation, as this years Europa league semi-finalists showed, the potential is certainly there. Madrid and Barcelona are outnumbered by eighteen to two, the voices of those speaking out needs to start getting louder.Follow @icentrocampista