Utz Claassen has an unfortunate haircut. It is one sheared from a recent German tradition of hairstyling that bears no relation to convention or contemporaneousness. It veers towards the mulletist tendency of head furniture, combining an element of balding; it is Phil Collins of the 1980s with a light perm.
One shouldn't judge someone on haircut alone, but it is hard to ignore doing so in Utz's case. Indeed, it is hard to ignore Utz full stop. He's been popping up with great regularity recently, his ongoing clashes with other owners of Real Mallorca football club and his desire to put his side of the story having guaranteed his column inches.
Were it solely down to him, Utz would probably be the proud sole or majority owner of Real Mallorca, though what it might cost him to prise shares away from others, who can tell. Given that he has sought to find legal redress, and failed, in his claim that he paid over the odds for his current shareholding, you would imagine he might be reluctant to part with more than a few euros.
Undeterred by the fact that he isn't the club's major shareholder and by all his wrangling with his fellow shareholders (or perhaps because of it), Utz has been putting forward his vision for the club. This is a vision, one suspects, very much for PR purposes. German and therefore foreign, were he to ever become the largest shareholder, he would need to have a sceptical and parochial local fan base onside, its scepticism raised by all the recent history involving foreign suitors.
One of these was of course The Plumber. The Paul Davidson fiasco made a laughing stock out of many, and not just those associated with the club which, in any case, has been adept in achieving laughing-stock status on its own and without the intervention of some Mitty-like character.
Davidson had a vision as well. Part of this involved constructing a plastics recycling plant and slapping the Real Mallorca brand name (sic) onto all manner of business ideas. And of course, Real Mallorca was going to become a big cheese of a football team. League titles, European titles, and so on.
Utz has now gone public in presenting his vision going forward to the year 2020. This twenty-twenty vision includes Real Mallorca becoming the third force in Spanish football (behind, one supposes, Real Madrid and Barça) and generating extra income through the building of day care centres, chapels and cemeteries. You what!? Apparently, there are such things in the grounds of some German clubs' stadia, so we will have to take Utz's word that having a cemetery behind one end of Mallorca's stadium might be a sound idea.
This does beg a question (in fact, it begs several), and that is - which stadium? Moreover, plans for building this and that have a tendency to get bound up in local politics and red tape; Davidson's idea for a recycling plant was crackers, as he would never have got permission for it.
On the footballing side, it is not uncommon for wannabe club owners to have visions of league and European glory, but for Mallorca to be taking part habitually in the Champions League, which is what Utz envisions, something pretty dramatic would have to occur. Like finding a load of money. You can't knock a chap for having a vision, like you can't knock him for having a daft haircut, but the scepticism level will surely have been raised several more notches as a consequence of Utz dreaming of Europe.
The best that Mallorca could hope for would be to be like Stoke City, a well-run club and team that knocks on the doors of the Europa League and has gained admission. But this, apart from the well-run bit, is what Mallorca have been and are. The club and team are two separate things. The club has been in turmoil, while the team, if it hasn't necessarily thrived, has still managed to achieve, and very nearly qualifying for a Europa League spot this season was an achievement.
Utz is playing the PR game in seeking support from the fan base and the wider Mallorcan public in his battles with other club owners. Whether he convinces is questionable. Building cemeteries comes on the back of previous ideas, such as bringing great plane loads of Germans to watch Mallorca, one that was greeted with derision in some quarters of the press. And now there is also his vision of the team being bolstered by star players from Spain, England and Germany, all part of trying to drum up foreign supporters. But which star players? Utz isn't like the Venkys, who had in mind Ronaldinho and Beckham, but is his vision just a PR strategy pure and simple?
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