Friday Kickoff: Malaga hit with UEFA ban, Vilanova has surgery, and more

Spanish club Malaga is enjoying an outstanding season, both on the league side and in the UEFA Champions League, but they are set to pay the price for the financial problems that plagued them earlier in the year.

UEFA has slapped Malaga with a one-year ban from European club competitions for failing to pay player wages and tax bills on time. The suspension could include a second year if Malaga doesn’t settle all debts by a pre-set deadline. UEFA also issued Malaga a $396,000 fine.

Malaga was one of eight clubs hit with sanctions by FIFA for financial irregularities. Bucharest clubs Dinamo and Rapid, Serbian club Partizan Belgrade, and Hajduk Split and Osijek of Croatia could also face one-year suspensions if they don’t settle their debts by March 31st, 2013. Four of the teams were hit with €100,000, while Hajduk was slapped with a €80,000 fine.

There is plenty going on in the soccer world as we head toward the weekend, so here is a rundown of some of the top stories to get you through your Friday:

Tito Vilanova underwent surgery on Thursday to address the cancer that has returned to his parotid gland, the same area he underwent cancer surgery earlier this year. He is set to undergo six weeks of chemotherapy.

Vilanova has stepped down as Barcelona manager while he undergoes treatment. Barcelona assistant Jordi Roura is expected to take over on an interim basis, though Vilanova could still work with the team in some capacity while he recovers.

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Manchester City is facing some injury issues, with Jack Rodwell and Samir Nasri both sidelined. Rodwell had been expected to be back from a hamstring injury, but a setback has ruled him out until January. Nasri looks set to miss the next two weeks with a groin injury.

A bit of good news for City has manager Roberto Mancini apparently ready to give out-of-favor striker Mario Balotelli a second chance. It looked like Balotelli might be ready to leave the Etihad after a falling out with Mancini, but the two have apparently made up.

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In a tale of two wingers, Arsenal star Theo Walcott remains unsigned while Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling has just completed a new deal with the Reds.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has yet to convince Walcott to reach a new deal, but wasn’t afraid to say he feels Walcott owes it to Arsenal to stick around.

Liverpool avoided any drawn out process with Sterling, inking the 18-year-old winger to a five-year contract.

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Outside of England, Juventus star defender Giorgio Chiellini is set to miss up to three months with a torn calf, a timetable that could rule him out of Juve’s Champions League Round of 16 clash with Celtic.

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What do you think of these developments? See UEFA cracking down on bigger clubs for financial irregularities? Still don’t buy the idea that Financial Fair Play will change things in European soccer? See Barcelona continuing to dominate without their head coach on the sidelines?

Share your thoughts below.

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29 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Malaga hit with UEFA ban, Vilanova has surgery, and more

  1. fischy says:

    So, does this mean Gooch will be looking for a new club soon?

    • bottlcaps says:

      This may work to Gooch’s advantage. If any of the starting defenders leave Malaga because of the UEFA ban, and Gooch decides to stay, he may be the first choice centerback/defender for Malaga’a future La Liga campaigns. Being a starter in a top La Liga team is definitely a plus if you want to make your way back to the USMNT after all the injuries/club changes.

    • RK says:

      He should’ve known this was coming when he joined the club.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Like a certain Rangers trio? Or Beasley in Mexico? Yet another thing to factor in when pushing for players to move abroad.

  2. Camjam says:

    I understand that there has to be punishment for teams who poorly manage finances; but doesn’t a fine for a team in financial trouble seem counterintuitive?

    • Francois says:

      ^This. I was just thinking the exact same thing. Seems pretty moronic to give a club a fine of almost half a million dollars when they are already having financial issues.

      • downintexas says:

        I agree seems backwards, but if you think about it, if you know you can get fined you should keep your books in the green.

    • Kevin_H says:

      Maybe they should call it No Team Left Behind.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      You could also say the same thing about banning Malaga from the European competitions which will see them gain 25 million Euros this season alone in prize money and TV revenues.

      Except, what UEFA is trying to do is promote solvency. The rule itself tells you to get solvent or risk punishment. You can’t just do nothing or the rule has no teeth. I see your point on costing a troubled team even more money — personally think it’s wiser to remove the UEFA rewards and cash than to fine them even more money — but I think they are grasping at straws trying to get teams to get their financial houses in order. The rule itself was plainly not enough for Malaga to obey, and the article suggests they had 32 million Euros coming in from UEFA and their oil sheik alone, much less tickets, merchandising, transfer revenue. This dwarfs MLS budgets and if they can’t make that kind of money work, there needs to be a penalty other than the potential of internal financial collapse. Particular when Spain is in its own financial crisis I don’t think it’s dumb……fines, maybe not genius…..but punishment, yes.

    • Jeff says:

      In addition to the fine they take away possible future revenues by banning them from Champions League or other tournaments for year. The fines should go to the unpaid players or outstanding bills. Why is UEFA entitled to any monies?

      • Manny F says:

        Its their competition, they can do whatever they want. If you had a competition and you made rules, you would punish teams they way you saw fit. Nobody is forcing teams to play in European tournaments.

        And to everyone who seems to act like this is new and out of the blue, remember that this was talked about 3-4 years ago. This rule is just in its second year. Teams like Milan began fixing their situations while others were going crazy trying to outbid each other on players. This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

    • Karol says:

      In the Bundesliga clubs like Malaga,Atletico M,etc would be relegated to the 3rd or 4th division for not keeping their books in order. Every German club knows that overspending will be severely punished by the German league – that`s why they live within their means. If you don`t punish someone for financial mismanagement – you are basically encouraging other clubs to do the same. That`s why Spanish football outside Real and Barca is such a mess.

  3. John says:

    Opening a completely different line of thought here. I’d send this to a ‘contact Ives’ link if I could find one on the site.

    Hey Ives, this came out in the Guardian this week.

    link to guardian.co.uk

    No Americans in the top 100. What do you think? Should Howard, Bradley, Deuce, or Donovan be in a world top 100 list?

    • OPMG says:

      Just checked out that link and when I read your comment I thought the Americans probably got hosed again…But looking at just 50-100, those are excellent players. Players that almost any team would want. A little reality check for myself, being a huge USMNT homer. We have a team of journeymen, no real definite star. A few guys have potential for sure, Bradley being foremost among them IMO. But big clubs aren’t necessarily pounding on the door trying to get our players on their squad.

    • Camjam says:

      You could argue that maybe some of those players you listed should have gotten in. However, that list is pretty solid. There are a couple players i’d take off (for example, Diego Forlan? Great player, but hasn’t had a good past year or so).

      • Camjam says:

        Ugh. They have John Terry on there also.

        • OPMG says:

          But would both of them start on our USMNT? I think the answer to that is yes, in a heart beat. Even if John Terry is scum…

          • John says:

            There are some pretty stellar players in the bottom half, but there are also some reaches, youngsters who may hit it big or may not. Read the stats on their #85, Emmanuel Mayuka. No goals or assists for Southampton. Better than Jozy, with 31 goals for Alkmaar over the last year and a half?

          • Camjam says:

            Oh I agree, I just think comparatively you may be able to make a couple arguments for some USMNT players to be on that list. For example, would Forlan start for us? Of course. That being said, if you compare Clint’s last year or so to what Forlan has done for the past year, it’s easy to see that Clint clearly had a better year.

            It’s just food for thought. That list is pretty good actually, and I don’t think any US player right now is SO good that there are any giant snubs.

            • GW says:

              If you accept the premise that the Champions League is the highest level of competition, and I do, then it makes sense that the best players play there.

              There are 22 seeded teams. If you assume the starters are the cream of the crop that number is 242.

              To the best of my knowledge Jones is the only USMNT guy in that 242 . So if there are no Americans in that top 100 it should come as no great surprise.

    • A says:

      Bradley is probably somewhere in the 100-200 on the global scale at the moment.

      Howard has had a pretty down year. Donovan has been all over the board and was pretty awful at the start of the season. Deuce is probably a little below Bradley.

      • GW says:

        The thing we’ll probably never know is has anyone quantified the difference between, for example, player #10 and player # 50?

        If you assume the 22 seeded Champions League teams have squads of about 30 (and some have more than that) that gives you a pool of 660 players.

        I’ll bet there are an awful lot of really good players at #101 – 660.

    • bottlcaps says:

      Why would there be? This is a list compiled mainly by Europeans (with a token Brazilian) about Europeans, for Europeans. And by Europeans we mean the EPL and by extention, the Big 6 football Leagues (with token SA players because they play, well,,,,in Europe) So about 90 percent bias, with no scientific or statistical references. (He’s good because I said so and I like Real Madrid anyway)
      But read the article and they agree it’s totally biased and bogus.

      Nothing to see here…move along..move along!

      • GW says:

        You are right about the failure to consider South America but the best USMNT players play in Europe.

        How many USMNT players play in South America?

  4. Sly says:

    This maybe the perfect time for Liverpool to buy Isco. 22 million pounds should do it.

  5. A says:

    Did George W. Bush take over FIFA?

    Fining a team as a penalty for being in financial trouble is like the FIFA version of No Child Left Behind.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Except local schools do not get 7 million Euros from an oil sheik billionaire owner, or 25 million from UEFA. I agree that punishing schools that are already running thin, as publicly-financed entities, is foolish. But Malaga CF is a private business run by a wealthy Qatari noble, which has all sorts of money flowing in from everywhere, including all that UEFA money, and yet somehow their financial house is still not in order.

      It’s also worth reminding that in these European, no-cap leagues, there are heavy risky incentives to spend spend spend at all costs. Malaga is somehow better than Milan but yet can’t pay its bills. Gretna and the original Rangers team are out of business. Pompey is at death’s door. These guys haven’t even paid their taxes or their players on time….which starts to sound like Rangers. It may be a little absurd to fine them, but if you do the same thing in the EPL they will dock you 10 points in a millisecond. I’d have no problem with them being bounced from Europe for this year and the next. It risks the whole enterprise for teams to be spending so far beyond their means, to compete with teams like Milan, that they can’t even make their bills. So either their Sheik needs to pay up, or they can watch from the sidelines next year.

  6. The Imperative Voice says:

    To complicate the Malaga story a little, let’s say they are run by a rich Qatari billionaire related to the Qatari royal family, and yet the team is somehow under-capitalized as a going business such that it can’t actually afford the bunch of players who make it so competitive, or fully pay the Spanish taxman. Rich owner, troubled team. Do you punish the team with the owner’s available finances in mind, or do I approach it as though it’s a poor team in over its head?