Fernando Vazquez with basketball legend Steve Nash.

03-03-2016

Real Mallorca celebrate their official 100th birthday tomorrow (5 March) and play promotion-chasing Oviedo at 6pm in the Son Moix. It’s our biggest game so far in the new year as we enter the business end of the season. The match takes on special significance as it will be the first time new American owner Robert Sarver has seen Mallorca play at home. The millionaire American banker arrived by private jet on Wednesday from Phoenix along with associate and former professional tennis doubles champion Andy Kohlberg. On Thursday Sarver spent 1,000 euros in the club shop buying shirts and other bits of paraphernalia (those purchases must have just about cleared the shop out). Retired NBA basketball player and vice-president of Sarver’s company, Steve Nash, has arrived as well. Nash was a legend amongst basketball followers and many of the local press were drooling in his presence. It’s hoped the attendance of the owners in the directors’ box will give the Mallorca team a morale boost in what is going to be a difficult game.

Our league position is becoming more precarious by the week, so it’s imperative we pick up all three points against an Asturian side who are unbeaten in 12 games - six wins, six draws - and who, if they win tonight, will go top of La Segunda. Coach Fernando Vazquez said on Tuesday that every game for us now is a “final” as there are 15 games left to play and an eight-point gap has emerged between us and 15th-placed Numancia.

Mallorca’s postponed game last Saturday in Huesca has been rescheduled for Wednesday, 16 March at 6.30pm.

Oviedo (where my friend John Ballard had a blinding plate of anchovies back in October) will be seeking retribution as we relegated them last time they played here in 2001. In 2013 they called for supporters to buy shares in the club as they were about to go into liquidation and ex-players like Juan Mata and Santi Cazorla offered their financial support in an effort to save the team. In November the second richest man in the world, Mexican Carlos Slim, invested 2.8 million euros, throwing Oviedo a lifeline and making him controlling shareholder.

They made it back into La Segunda in 2013 but not before a local businessman wasted 200,000 euros buying a team bus that was too big to park in most tiny second division grounds. Said businessman did a runner and is now hiding in Panama.

I’m expecting Mallorca to “show off” in front of the watching dignitaries and win, but it’s going to be another typical second division war of attrition game. The club have been doing a cheap ticket campaign and all 3,000 have reportedly gone, which may well see a gate of over 10,000. That is if all the season ticket holders bother to turn up.

In other news, a packed Teatro Principal on Sunday night celebrated the start of our centennial birthday week. Players, coaches and presidents old and new were in attendance and everything went to plan apart from a rant from an ex-president from Campanet, Dr Bartolome Beltran. He had a pop at present president Utz Claassen and general manager Maheta Molango, telling them “you can buy what you like but you can never buy the heart of the club, it can’t be bought or sold - you have to conquer it”. He also commented on the fact that Robert Sarver’s basketball team Phoenix Suns has recently lost two finals. Beltran’s outburst was a bit rich coming from a president (95/98) who didn’t inject one centimo of money into Real Mallorca when it was owned by the late Madrid publishing magnate Antonio Asensio and who was eventually asked to leave for squandering money.

It’s all very well criticising foreign owners and presidents, but where were local big businesspeople, for example from hotel groups, when their local football team was in financial trouble?

A bizarre story emerged on Wednesday when it was disclosed that our ex-coach Joaquin Caparros (who’s been tipped to be the next Spanish national coach) had showed his players a 30-second clip from a porno DVD before a La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao in 2012 in order to try and instill passion into the players. One player, Anderson Conceicao, said: “The coach wanted to brighten our faces, showing that movie in order to lift our spirits.” Caparros told his players: “On the pitch you need to play as hard as this guy.” Sadly, showing the mucky clip didn’t make any impression, we lost one-nil and were subsequently relegated. Football managers have used a plethora of techniques to ramp up their players in the past but as team-bonding sessions go, watching pornography is a new one.

The scorer that night was ex-Mallorca striker Aritz Aduriz. Now 35 years old, he scored his second hat-trick of the season for Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, bringing his total in the league to 17 and 30 goals in all competitions. He must surely have booked his place in Spain’s squad for the Euros.

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