Football - Soccer-Malaga banned from European competition for a season

Dec 21 (Reuters) - Spanish club Malaga have been banned from future European competition for at least a season because of unpaid bills as European soccer's governing body takes firm action on finances.

The ban does not apply this season but will take effect the next time that the Qatari-owned club qualifies for European competition in the next four years, UEFA said in a statement.

The ban will be extended for a further season unless Malaga can prove by the end of March that they have settled outstanding payments to other teams, staff and tax authorities. Malaga have also been fined 300,000 euros ($397,100).

Malaga are in the last 16 of this season's Champions League where they will meet Porto.

The punishment underlines that UEFA is serious about enforcing Financial Fair Play rules that are being phased in.

The rules will mean that clubs will ultimately have to move towards balancing their books or face exclusion from European competition.

($1 = 0.7555 euros) (Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Alan Baldwin 44 20 7542 8022)