With Malaga facing the biggest sporting crisis during his reign as owner, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Thani still hasn’t shown his face in the city since returning to Qatar in May to observe Ramadan.
Fans are unimpressed by the sheikh’s lack of involvement and have frequently called for him to leave the club, with chants of ‘Al-Thani, vete ya!’ ringing around La Rosaleda with alarming frequency as the side faces up to the very real prospect of relegation.
So where is he? And who’s running the club in his absence?
Since doing away with the ‘man of confidence’ approach (removing the general director role completely), Al-Thani has relied on his own children to look after the club in his best interests. His sons Nasser, Nayef and Rakan have been on the Costa del Sol taking care of the day-to-day running of the club while his daughter Hamyan has recently been brought in to oversee the women’s team and the Academy project which was finally inaugurated last week.
The problem in the past has been a lack of trust in those operating on his behalf, frequently leading to interventionism which proved to be ill-advised.
This occurred in the summer when Al-Thani distrusted the way sporting director Francesc Arnau was carrying out business and vetoed the move for experienced pro Javi García and instead personally pursued a move for Argentinian rookie Esteban Rolón. Eventually, Arnau lost his job and Mario Husillos was reinstated.
This January saw an enormous shift with Malaga carrying out business rapidly and operations carried out by Husillos with almost complete autonomy. Certainly the squad is better for it and the recruitment process showed foresight but it is proving to be a case of too little, too late.
Despite the seeming change in direction, though, calls are still increasing for Al-Thani to face some of the music.