x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Fans of Malaga and Santander get contrasting tastes of foreign flavour

Foreign ownership has brought a feel-good factor and increased interest at Malaga, but at the opposite end of Spain, fans of Racing Santander are bitter.

Malaga and Racing Santander have heavily contrasting experiences of foreign owners. In Malaga, the money invested by the Qatari owners since taking over in June 2010 is showing.

They twice came from behind against Getafe at the weekend, before a dramatic injury time overhead kick from Julio Baptista saw Manuel Pellegrini's side triumph and briefly go top of the league with four wins and a draw from the opening six games - the same as Real Madrid and Valencia.

La Rosaleda is routinely sold out to its 29,000 capacity - a 70 per cent increase on Malaga's usual average. Foreign ownership has brought investment, a feel-good factor and increased interest, but at the opposite end of Spain, fans of Racing Santander are bitter.

The Indian businessman, Ahsan Syed, took control in January. A colourful character who waved a scarf from the presidential box, he laughed off questions about his integrity. The Bahrain-based entrepreneur spoke of boosting Racing's international profile and of improving standards.

League form did pick up but players complained of wages being paid late and many in Cantabria grew suspicious. Syed left in the close season amid a storm of counter accusation about shares, unpaid debts and who owns the club.

Racing fans are the losers and the instability has seen them winless from their first six games. The mood reflected in the crowd at home to Rayo Vallecano when just 7,500 went to El Sandinero on Saturday - under half their recent average. They deserved much better.


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