Dominic Conway looks at the recent fortunes of Màlaga.
It's fair to say things haven't always run smoothly for Los Boquerones. Six relegation's and six promotions along with average finishes since the birth of the club in 1923 have done little to excite the fans of the club.
It wasn't always doom and gloom for Màlaga though, during the 2002/2003 season they enjoyed a healthy run in the UEFA Cup, eventually losing to Portuguese side Boavistain a penalty shootout. Then, on the 27th of July 2010 a magical fairytale was about to happen on the Costa del Sol - Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani was confirmed as the new owner of the club.
Starting in 2009 when major shareholder and president, Fernando Sanz began to look for new investors after financial constraints started to take its toll on the club. Sanztravelled to Doha, Qatar and met Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family. After lengthy discussions, Al Thani finally purchased all the shares (for €36 million) and Màlaga had a new owner.
When news broke over the purchase there was huge excitement for the supporters, who anticipated a shake up of the Spanish game - maybe Al Thani could propel Màlaga to the top of La Liga and oust the mighty Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Al Thanihad plans not just for purchase of world-class players, but to build a new multi million Euro academy. A significant part of his new idea was to make Màlaga the latest powerhouse in world football.
Jesualdo Ferreira was the manager in charge during the takeover, but after nine league matches played and five consecutive defeats he was sacked, Manuel Pellegrini was appointed the new manager and, after signing the likes of Julio Baptista during the January transfer window, he steered them to an eleventh-place finish.
During the summer of 2011, Malaga started to send shock-waves across Europe with the signing of high-profile players including Joaquín Sànchez and Isco from Valencia, Jeremy Toulalan from Lyon and, biggest of all, Santi Cazorla from Villarreal. A total net of €62m was spent on players, more than Real Madrid and Barcelona. They eventually finished the 2011/2012 season in fourth place, beating Sporting Gijon 1-0, thus qualifying for the play-off round of the UEFA Champions League. After what proved a highly successful season, they were all set to kick on and become a major force in European football.
However, there were rumours of problems within the club - players were not paid, clubs were not paid for the transfers, and Hamburg and Villarreal publicly stated that they were still waiting for payments following the purchases of Cazorla and Mathijsen. Santi Cazorla and Ruud van Nistelrooy also went public and gave the club a deadline for their wages to be paid.
Màlaga CF also owed money to the Spanish tax office. It seemed Al Thani had lost interest in the club – the local authorities turned down his other plans in the Andalusian area, and this seemed to trigger his apathy towards the club.
Cazorla, Rondón and Van Nistelrooy were all moved on to ease their financial troubles - it seemed that, unlike other clubs in Europe (for example Manchester City, PSG and Chelsea) who are also bankrolled by oil tycoons, Màlaga's financial supply tap had been turned off.
It wasn't a complete disaster for the Andalusians though, they have a reputation for producing highly talented homegrown players at the club. 16-year old Fabrice Olinga scored the winner on the opening day against Celta Vigo. They also have Isco, the highly rated young midfielder. Isco had a fine first season at the club, but in the summer there was rumours that he could be moved on to ease the club's financial worries, Liverpool had a bid turned down for the player and he subsequently decided to stay for the foreseeable future.
Their hugely experienced manager, Manuel Pellegrini, could very well make a difference this season, as he has done for the last two seasons. Under his guidance, the team is well-drilled in defence and midfield, with their flair in attack, it will not be an easy ride for other teams when they come to play at La Rosaleda this season, so you cannot write them off just yet.
They have also brought in experienced high-profile players such as Javier Saviola and Roque Santa Cruz (on loan from Manchester City) to strengthen the squad following the departure of Rondón and Van Nistelrooy which had left their strike force threadbare. Màlaga beat Panathinaikos in a Champions League play-off tie to qualify for the group stages of the world's most prestigious club tournament, also winning their opening Champions League game against big-spending Zenit St Petersburg 3-0 thanks to a goal from Saviola and two from Isco.
Ironically, Al Thanihas huge wealth, and these are not his own financial troubles, but his lack of contact has given Malaga CF a huge money headache. Within a few months Al Thani has gone from hero to villain with the Andalusian public, though, the hero status could be reinstated if he opened the cheque book once again.
Only time will tell if Màlaga is destined to become the powerhouse Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani had promised.
You can follow Dominic on Twitter at @lifejacketboy