Another top Spanish side dwindle as Qatar-backed Málaga risk relegation

Once a swashbuckling side that reached a Champions League quarter-final less than a decade ago, Spanish side Málaga now barely resemble their former successful selves.

With just seven league games remaining this season, one of the most important names in the country’s football faces relegation. And the concern is not the demotion in the second division. Instead, it drops to the third tier – a wacky prospect at its peak. With the lowest goal tally and the second-worst goal difference in the league, it becomes a real possibility.

If that wasn’t enough, he is now counting on a new boss, Pablo Guede, to pick up the pieces after sacking Natxo González following a poor run of results. Although he hopes new leadership will lead to a rebound in form, the decision smacks of instability and desperation. Sitting just above the drop zone, the run-in also looks tricky, with four of its last seven games against teams occupying the league’s top seven spots.

All of this is extraordinary when you consider the structure at the top. Usually, when a Middle Eastern country and football property come together in the same sentence, it symbolizes financial prosperity and clear direction, if not controversy. In fact, since he spurred the club on its purchase, Qatari Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al Thani ended his interest and even briefly left office two years ago after being accused of embezzlement. of the club.

Malaga is an anomaly in the way it proves owners in the Gulf States don’t always drive long-term achievement. Al Thani has led the entity for the past 13 seasons and watched it crumble in stature and finances. Things have gotten worse under him, culminating in a situation where the club are at rock bottom and miles from where they expect to be. Compare that to the on-pitch aspirations Newcastle United hope to achieve with the Saudi investment, and the results could hardly be more different.

Málaga went from scaring Borussia Dortmund – then led by one of Europe’s top managers in Jürgen Klopp – in the Champions League to being unable to pay wages and say goodbye to La Liga. Coaches have come and gone during this time, with some doing better than others. One of them, Víctor Sánchez del Amo, even walked after a video emerged of him exposing himself inappropriately, leading to his dismissal. In response, he claimed the leak was an invasion of his privacy. Either way, it didn’t help the club’s operations. Equally concerning has been Malaga’s struggle to field full squads lately due to stiff penalties stemming from their lack of funds.

They are not the only important team to suffer, however. Former national champions Deportivo La Coruña of Galicia have been playing in the third division for some time now. Meanwhile, as clubs like Deportivo and Racing Santander suffer, names like Eibar have risen and enjoyed their time in La Liga. Indeed, the whole picture has changed considerably, especially considering what is happening at the top, with Villarreal reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in nearly 20 campaigns.

If Málaga were to fall, they could still recover. Last year there was a change in the pyramid of Spanish football, with the third tier splitting into two national groups. Before that, it was inundated with dozens of teams across the country, vying for very few promotion spots and risking getting lost in the system. Unless they go into a tailspin, Malaga could stabilize and push for a return to La Liga in the coming seasons.

But for that to happen, changes will be needed at the board level. Malaga isn’t what it used to be and staying in their league is the top priority.

Edward K. Thompson