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Champions League contenders Malaga handed ban for financial irregularities

updated 4:09 PM EST, Fri December 21, 2012
Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani (right) purchased Spanish La Liga team Malaga in June 2010 and proceeded to spend millions bringing top players to the Costa del Sol. Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani (right) purchased Spanish La Liga team Malaga in June 2010 and proceeded to spend millions bringing top players to the Costa del Sol.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Malaga banned from UEFA competitions for financial irregularities
  • La Liga side into last 16 of this season's Champions League competition
  • One season ban would take effect in any of four seasons from 2013/14
  • First leading club to fall foul of FFP rules imposed by European governing body

(CNN) -- Champions League contenders Malaga have been handed a season long ban from UEFA club competitions after falling foul of the European governing body's Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.

The La Liga side will be allowed to continue in this season's Champions League, where they have reached the last 16 stage, but any ban would come into place over any of the next four seasons should they qualify to play in Europe.

Malaga are the first high-profile club to be punished under new tougher FFP rules with UEFA's Financial Control Body (CFCB) making their ruling after a hearing Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.

Malaga owe player wages and have debts with other football sides as well as the Spanish tax authorities, claim UEFA.

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The CFCB has given the club until March 31 next year to settle the debts and will impose a further one season ban from UEFA competitions, the Champions League or Europa League, if they fail to do so.

Malaga have also been fined €300,000 ($396,000) but UEFA has released prize money due them from this season's Champions League.

The club issued a strongly worded statement Friday to express their "total disagreement" with the UEFA decision.

Read: Malaga's malady: When foreign ownership goes wrong

It went on: "The measures taken against the club are absolutely disproportionate and unjustified given the club's situation. We consider that the club is being punished unfairly and used as a scapegoat and example to others.

"Malaga CF wishes to state that it will work energetically and without rest to achieve justice, using all available necessary means."

We consider that the club is being punished unfairly and used as a scapegoat
Malaga CF statement

The club, who are currently fourth in La Liga, a spot which would see them qualify for a European place next season, can appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport in an attempt to overturn the decision.

Since coming under the ownership of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani, a member of the Qatar ruling family, Malaga have spent heavily on new players.

Read: Will top football clubs play fair financially?

But in November, they were one of nine European clubs referred to the CFCB because of debt problems and infringements of UEFA's licensing agreements and one of 23 to have prize money withheld.

Despite the threat of sanctions looming over the club, Malaga have performed superbly this season under coach Manuel Pellegrini, winning Group C of the Champions League with a game to spare and earning a tie against Porto in the knockout stage.

Five other clubs face one-year European bans, valid for three seasons, if they do not settle their debts by March 31.

Croatian sides Hajduk Split and Osijek; Romania's Dinamo Bucharest and Rapid Bucharest; and Partizan Belgrade of Serbia, were all handed the punishment.

Serbian's Vojvodina and Ukraine's Arsenal Kyiv received fines while the case against Polish side Lech Poznan was dropped.

This season is the first since UEFA's FFP rules were introduced and they will come more fully into force in 2014. They give the ruling body sweeping powers, including exclusion from the lucrative Champions League.

They are designed to prevent big spending clubs spending beyond their means and posting unsustainable yearly losses.

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