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Friday, December 21, 2007

"QPR are Richest Club in the world" - And Various Other Items re QPR's New Investors

The Sun - QPR are richest club in the world - By PAUL JIGGINS
CHELSEA fans will be choking on their cappuccinos today when they discover they are no longer the country’s richest club.
In fact, they are not even the wealthiest in West London any more.
That honour now goes to unfashionable neighbours Queens Park Rangers after Lakshmi Mittal — the fifth most minted man on the planet — bought a 20 per cent stakeholding.
And with the Rangers board already boasting F1 tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, it means the Championship’s bottom club have a fortune of more than £22BILLION — even bigger than Real Madrid.
Indian steel magnate Mittal topped last year’s Sunday Times Rich List with a near £20bn fortune — almost double that of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
F1 supremo Ecclestone is worth £2.5bn, while Renault chief Briatore has a cool £60m.
The three wealthy directors have pledged to splash the cash to turn Rangers into the game’s next big force.
And boss Luigi de Canio will be given an open chequebook to strengthen his squad during next month’s transfer window.
Mittal will be represented on the board by son-in-law Amit Bhatia.
He said: “The family is excited about becoming involved with QPR. As a family, we love sport and particularly enjoy English football.
“Alongside Bernie and Flavio, we hope we can improve the club’s performance, with the ultimate ambition of a Premier League place.”
Rangers were on the brink of going back into administration before Ecclestone and Briatore bought the club for £14m in September.
Paul Finney, of the Independent R’s supporters group, said: “Santa must be wearing blue and white hoops.
“It’s been a crazy season and now it looks set to be even more surreal.” The Sun

The Telegraph - Lakshmi Mittal pushes QPR up the rich list
By Kevin Garside

Roman's is no longer the pre-eminent pocket in west London. In one cursory flourish of his platinum card, the world's fifth richest man, who is worth £26 billion, has restructured the pecking order in Kensington and Chelsea. Ronaldinho is practically a Queens Park Rangers player. You never know, David Beckham might be supplying the crosses. He'd look good in hoops.

Fantasy is part of the infrastructure at Queen's Park Rangers. Ordinarily it extends no further than the absent fans, the thousands who proclaim allegiance, who convince themselves that they are supporters but so rarely trouble the turnstiles. Now Lakshmi Mittal is on board, to the tune of a 20 per cent holding, the missing Rangers hordes will be knocking down the doors before you can say Jose Mourinho for manager.

Money men: Lakshmi Mittal has joined forces with Bernie Ecclestone at Loftus Road
In 1974, a record 35,353 turned up to watch Don Revie's Leeds. The capacity now, albeit all-seated, is a more modest 19,100, a figure unlikely to be challenged by the visit of Colchester tomorrow. Make the most of the modest fare; the club is not planning to wither much longer in the nether regions of the game.

Just two months ago the catalyst among the Loftus Road magnates, Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone, sat in the Fuji paddock eulogising Rangers. Earlier that day Mount Fuji emerged from behind the clouds that had cloaked its wondrous peak. One wondered whether Bernie had the right Rangers, whether his state had not been altered by the mind-bending properties associated with Japan's magical mountain.

He spoke of a commitment to revisit the days of Thomas and Francis, of Marsh and Bowles, of a desire to parade Rangers in Europe, to dip the old place in stardust and give Loftus Road a facelift. The unveiling yesterday of Mittal as a partner in this preternatural project added weight to the fancy.

"Mittal is a mate of mine as you know," Ecclestone said. "I told him he should come on board; he took my advice. We want this to work. This is a great old club - they haven't always been where they are today. They were challenging Liverpool for the league title back in the Seventies. That is where we want to see them again, in the top flight.

advertisement"What surprises me is the number of people who are supporters that you never dreamt would be. I speak to people and they tell me they have been supporting QPR all their lives. We'll tidy the whole place up now and see what we can come up with. There will be investment in the club to make it the best it can be. There is a proper board in place and they will decide what the spend will be."

Having spent £30 million sending his daughter down the aisle, Mittal is unlikely to be counting the pennies. When asked if Mittal's involvement was a statement of intent, Ecclestone, hardly thrifty himself, replied: "Absolutely."

Seventeen years ago, a former sheet metal worker from Blackburn sold his company to British Steel for £360 million. Twelve months later, fans of Blackburn Rovers thought they must have died and gone to football heaven. Jack Walker was the new chairman and splashing millions on new stands and Alan Shearer. The result, in 1995, was a first championship since 1914.

Under Kenny Dalglish, Blackburn bloodied the noses of the football aristocracy. Under Mourinho, propelled by Roman's rubles, Chelsea added a second and third title 40 years after claiming their first. The mind boggles at the potential inherent in the bank balances of Messrs Mittal, Ecclestone and [Flavio] Briatore.

January offers the first opportunity to measure intent. This improbable triumvirate could blow the transfer window off its Roman-plated hinges. The teams immediately above QPR in the Championship table are all a whiter shade of pale this morning.

Briatore is the man pulling the strings. This is the same former ski instructor who made niche Italian knitwear sell like hot cakes. He then made Benetton winners in grand prix racing, introducing a chap called Michael Schumacher to the global stage. Ten years later he repeated the feat at Renault, making Fernando Alonso a double world champion.

Blackburn were decaying in the old Second Division when Walker blew into Ewood Park. Within a year they were founder members of the Premiership. Dizzying progress is the minimum requirement at QPR. This quaint, harmless club is about to be fast-tracked into the big league. If manager Luigi de Canio cannot fashion it, Briatore will find another who can. And don't be surprised were he to speak Portuguese.


Loftus Road magnates
Lakshmi Mittal
Born: Sadulpur, India.
Age: 57.

Reputed to be the fifth-richest man in the world, Mittal owns 44 per cent of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company. He began his career by working in his family's steel business, but in 1994 he branched out to take over the company's international operations, eventually becoming president of the board of directors.
Worth £26 billion
Bernie Ecclestone
Born: Bungay, Suffolk. Age: 77

Ecclestone, the 'ringmaster' for F1 motor racing, he made his mark by buying the Brabham team in 1972. Became chief executive of the F1 Constructors Association in 1978 and pioneered the sale of TV rights for the sport. Was at the centre of a controversy in 1997 when he gave the Labour Party a £1m donation.
Worth £2.25 billion

Flavio Briatore
Born: Cuneo, Italy. Age: 57.

Managing director of the Renault F1 team. Made his fortune after going into business with clothing company founder Luciano Benetton. Became managing director of the Benetton F1 team and then took on a similar role when it became Benetton-Renault, and then simply Renault.
Worth £50 Million


QPR welcomes the billionaire effect as Mittal strikes a deal
By Danny Fortson, Business Correspondent
Published: 21 December 2007
Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a championship-winning football team, a truism lavishly proven by Roman Abram-ovich at Chelsea.

The board of Queen's Park Rangers was yesterday hoping that the arrival of a new billionaire owner in the form of Lakshmi Mittal, head of the world's largest steel company and the richest man in the UK, would herald a similar change of fortunes for the long-suffering club.

The West London club revealed yesterday that the steel baron paid an undisclosed sum for a 20 per cent stake, becoming the latest fabulously wealthy businessman to add an English football club to his trophy case. QPR, currently bottom of the Championship, welcomed the arrival of Mr Mittal, who has an estimated net worth of £20bn. "This investment ...is a great step towards the development of the club and supports the ambition of the shareholders to reach the Premier League in the near future."

Mr Mittal joins the club's other high-profile owners, Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One, and Flavio Briatore, the Renault team manager, who took over the club in September. Mr Mittal will be represented on the board by his son-in-law Amit Bhatia.

QPR declined to comment on spending plans beyond a statement saying: "The new capital being invested in QPR will help fund the programme that is needed to help us to achieve this target."

If recent history is a guide, QPR, which last played in the Premier League in 1996, is probably on the cusp of a liberally bankrolled make-over. It needs it. The club descended into farce last year when details emerged of a boardroom confrontation in which former director Gianni Baldini said he was held at gunpoint to force him to resign and sell his shares.

Mr Mittal's dip into the football world is the latest in a string of such deals. Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, bought Manchester City last summer and immediately splashed out tens of millions of pounds to hire former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson and a raft of pricey foreign players. Report

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