Qatar-owned Malaga faces ban over finances

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Qatar-owned La Liga football club Malaga has been banned from European competition for at least one season because of unpaid bills.

The club, which is owned by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani, a member of the Qatar royal family, was one of the first nine clubs to fall foul of UEFA's new Financial Fair Play rules.

Al-Thani bought the Andalusian club for $44m in June 2010 and heavy investment in players helped them finish fourth last season and secure a place in the Champions League playoff round.

The suspension will not affect the Spanish club's current Champions League campaign but the ban will kick in any time in the next four seasons should they again qualify for Europe.

A UEFA statement said: "Uefa's club financial control body has taken its first decision due to the presence of significant overdue payables.

"Malaga is excluded from participating in the next Uefa club competition for which it would otherwise qualify for in the next four seasons."

The club, which has also been fined 300,000 euros, responded by claiming they have been made a "scapegoat" by UEFA.

The club said in a statement that it "wishes to express its total disagreement at the decision issued by UEFA, and considers the intended actions against the club to be completely unjustified".

"Given the total and absolute indignation and outrage at the decision, Malaga Club de Futbol wishes to state they are working tirelessly to ensure justice is done, and will work with all organisations necessary until the situation is resolved," it added. 

The club also said it was continuing with the process of "internal restructuring" which started last summer to come in line with the Fair Play regulations. 

The statement added that the owners remained committed to the club, evidenced by Al-Thani's recent investment of more than seven million euros.

In September, Al-Thani denied media reports that he was planning to sell up and vowed to continue to invest.

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