By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
A British investment group headed by millionaire entrepreneur Paul “The Plumber” Davidson was last night confirmed as the new owner of Real Mallorca football club.

The Grupo Drac, the construction and development company owned by the Real Mallorca Chairman Vicente Grande, announced yesterday evening that, after a day of talks in Palma, a preliminary deal had been reached between the two parties and Davidson will control the majority share of the club, providing all the requisites and conditions are met by a September 1 deadline.

Neither party was giving anything away last night, especially with regards to the funds involved but it is understood that the deal could involve around 40 to 42 million euros.

Grande, who filed for insolvency last month, owned a 97 percent stake in the club and it is thought that Grande may retain a very minor share of the club.

One of the conditions of the deal is that he remains as chairman for the next five years as part of the deal. According to an official statement released by Grupo Drac, the group of British investors “is committed to maintaining and improving the club's standing in the top flight of Spanish and European football.” Davidson, who appears to have beaten the former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd in the race to buy the club, not only becomes the fourth owner of Real Mallorca in 15 years but more importantly, he is the first foreign and British owner of the club.

Paul Davidson, who left school at the age of 15 and worked as an apprentice fitter and welder, is a colourful entrepreneur and his international pipe-fitting company Fluid Leader Group was last month valued at 90 million pounds.

The core of the business is a pipeline repair device Davidson says will allow oil companies to fix leaks without shutting down pipelines and he has already received backing from UAE countries.

Davidson is building a production plant for the pipe repair technology in Sharjah and the plant is expected to turn over half a billion pounds within the next two years.

The Sharjah ruling family has taken a 12 percent stake in the business and Davidson wants to build Fluid Leader into one of the biggest conglomerates in Britain.

Freddy Shepherd expressed his interest in taking over total control of the club on June 10 and last week made an initial official offer of 17.5 million pounds for Grande's shares.

Grande has maintained all along that he did not want to sell his stake, he even repeated that yesterday morning as final talks with Davidson were poised to start. However, Grande has made it clear all summer that he would consider any offers made and that he wanted to sell his stake for the highest price possible.

The Davidson deal is said to have happened extremely quickly. Real Mallorca is now on the eve of a new era with a new chairman from Cheshire, England.

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