SOCCER

European reprieve for Málaga as it receives Uefa competition license

Spanish club appealed against ban arguing it had complied fully with Financial Fair Play criteria

After a testing season off the field and on it, Uefa has presented Málaga CF with a light at the end of the tunnel in awarding the club permission to participate in European competition next season.

The south coast club had originally been excluded by the Uefa Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) from competing in any continental tournament it may qualify for over the next four seasons. The decision of the CFCB was based on Málaga’s debts and non-payment of its staff. However, the club said it found the decision “disproportionate and unjustified” and noted that it had complied with all the measures laid out last summer in order to satisfy Uefa’s Financial Fair Play criteria.

“It is good news for the club, and demonstrates that we have met our goals and that the appeal that we presented to the Court of Arbitration for Sport makes all the sense in the world. Málaga complies with all the requisites to play in Europe,” club sources said on Wednesday.

The Uefa license has been awarded to all Liga clubs with European aspirations except for Rayo Vallecano and Espanyol. Valladolid, Osasuna, Granada, Zaragoza, Deportivo and Celta have also been excluded from the list, but none of these have any chance of qualifying for European competition this season. Bottom-placed Mallorca, which was banned from continental action by the CFCB after qualifying for the Europa League in 2009, has been granted a Uefa license.

It is good news for the club, and shows that we have met our goals"

Málaga’s case before the CAS is due to be heard on June 4, when the club will aim to have its ban definitively overturned.

The concession is a boost to Málaga, which missed out on a place in the Champions League semifinals partly due to some extremely dubious refereeing decisions in its return leg match against finalist Borussia Dortmund, which drew some equally harsh words from the coaching staff and board. Manuel Pellegrini’s team currently sits sixth in La Liga, two points clear of Betis. A seventh-placed finish will suffice for Europa League qualification this season as Real Madrid and Atlético – both already in next season’s Champions League – will contest the cup final this Friday, the winner of which is awarded a Europa League berth the following year.

Pellegrini had been strongly rumored to move to Manchester City at the end of the current season, but Málaga has refused to confirm or deny whether the Chilean will remain on the Costa del Sol after three successful seasons.

Errata

This story turned out to be based on a widely reported mis-translation of a Uefa document, and it later emerged that Málaga was still banned from the 2014-14 season.

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