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Apr 26, 2013

Doubts grow over Malaga owner

Malaga owner Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani is to have permission to develop a Marbella marina revoked, according to El Pais, casting doubts on his future commitment to the region and the club.

Al-Thani's backing of Malaga has always appeared linked to a €109 million project to develop a port facility at nearly Marbella, and he signed an agreement with local authorities to do so in December 2011.

However, El Pais reported on Friday that the Andalucia Public Ports Agency (APPA) is disappointed with progress made at the Bajadilla development, and are set to remove the concession under which he has control of the facility. The newspaper says Al-Thani's company has already been fined €130,000 and €25,000 for not meeting agreed targets on time. He has also apparently not paid the €75,000 fee to the APPA that is due to allow him to manage and extend the existing facility.

Al-Thani has reportedly not replied to requests for information from the civil authorities. In January, he was given a three-month deadline to pay what he owes, but this has now passed. Marbella mayor Angeles Munoz has apparently pleaded for the Qatari to be allowed more leeway, but APPA sources told El Pais that its patience had run out.

Such a move would bring into question Al-Thani's plans for the football club into which he invested over €200 million during his first two years in control, but from which he then abruptly withdrew financial support. Malaga's city council gave permission in 2011 for a new 'sporting city' training ground and youth development facility, but construction on this has yet to begin. Al-Thani himself has not been seen in Spain since attending the Champions League group win over AC Milan last October.

Boquerones vice-president Moayad Shatat has repeatedly claimed that his boss is committed to the club in the medium-term, but the local press in Andalucia reported again this month that players had not been paid on time.

Similar 'irregularities' in the running of Malaga had led to a one-season ban from European competition, which Malaga are currently appealing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Al-Thani has repeatedly accused UEFA of singling out his club for punishment when others are guilty of similar issues, and tweeted about "racism" and "corruption" after their Champions League elimination at Borussia Dortmund in early April.

The Sheikh returned to Twitter on Thursday to suggest that this week's heavy defeats by Barcelona at Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at Dortmund were further evidence of injustice and inequality within Spanish football.

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