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RELIABLE reports say that Real Mallorca football club is planning to lure Thierry Henry from Arsenal and Michael Owen from Madrid for the start of the next season. Rio Ferdinand is also thought to be in the club's sights if he continues to prevaricate over renewing his contract with Manchester United. Of course, there's a lot of money involved, but that's not a problem. The club argues that Spanish premier league football is essential as a means of keeping Mallorca's image in front of the Spanish public. After the narrow escape from relegation at the end of last season, steps have to be taken to strengthen the squad, hence the projected deals over Henry, Owen and Ferdinand. But the money? We're talking millions upon millions. No problem. The Balearic government is expected to find the necessary in the interests of maintaining and building Majorca's reputation as a place where only the best will do. After all, if Minorca's basketball team can be subsidised to the tune of 4.5 million euros by the Balearic government in order to take its place in Spain's premier basketball league, as reported yesterday, there will surely be no difficulty at all in finding the somewhat larger sums required to maintain the life style to which Messrs Henry, Owen and Ferdinand are accustomed. The President of the Balearic government, Jaume Matas, travelled to Minorca to deliver the good news.
At the same time he had to admit that it had been necessary to reduce the official sponsorship of the Balearics' cycling team in order to help the basketballers. If the soccer deals go through it will probably be necessary to stop all capital contruction projects throughout the islands to release the necessary funds. So what? Let's get our priorities right. Come to think of it, the Balearic Symphony Orchestra will shortly be appointing a new permanent conductor. What about Simon Rattle? He could surely be persuaded to leave the Berlin Philharmonic if the price was right. It might mean that all other sponsored cultural activitity would have to come to a standstill but, again, it's a matter of priority and prestige.