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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Briatore on QPR's New Wealth and Plans - Compilation of Various News Accounts

Almost every news report of the event adds a little additional snippet of information about what said or what is planned.

The Times/Kaveh Solhekol

QPR billionaires will not jump through hoops for agents in bid for success Flavio Briatore did not become a billionaire by throwing his money away and the co-owner of Queens Park Rangers has warned agents that he will not be taken for a ride as he tries to transform the fortunes of the Coca-Cola Championship club.

Speaking at the launch of QPR’s new £20 million, five-year kit deal with Lotto, the Italian manufacturer, Briatore, who is also the managing director of the Renault Formula One team, dismissed rumours that the West London side wanted to sign superstar players such as Luis Figo, the Inter Milan winger and former Portugal captain. “Figo is a fantasy,” Briatore said. “There are lots of rumours in English football - it is even worse than Formula One.”

Briatore bought QPR last November with Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal, two of the richest men in the UK, and the billionaires want to reach the promised land of the Barclays Premier League without lining the pockets of agents.

“Everybody thinks that new people have come in and they can suck our blood, but we have no blood,” Briatore said. “There is nothing to suck here. There is no blood in my body. Just because the shareholders are wealthy, it does not mean that the club is wealthy.”

QPR were in the relegation zone when Briatore and Co arrived at Loftus Road, but they have climbed the table steadily since the appointment of Luigi De Canio and the Italian first-team coach will be given about £10 million to spend on new players in the summer. “We have wish list of who we want, but we won’t be discussing it in public. If I tell you who we want to buy, the price will become ten times bigger,” Briatore said. “We don’t want fantasy players, we need players who will work hard and players who share the same motivations as the shareholders of the club.” Despite being a friend of Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea, Briatore will not be following the Russian’s lead in the transfer market. Prudence is the watchword at Shepherds Bush. “It is completely wrong to compare QPR with Chelsea,” Briatore said. “Chelsea are Chelsea and QPR are QPR. We will not be throwing our money away.”

Briatore wants his club to be playing in the Champions League in five years and to do so the Italian has accepted that the club will need to move away from their home in West London. Several sites in the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are being considered. “At the moment we are facing a problem with the stadium, but we have to change things little by little,” Briatore said. “If you want to build a tower, you have to build it on strong foundations. You cannot build a tower on sand.”

The future of QPR appears to be a lot brighter than Briatore’s Formula One team. Renault have been off the pace in this season’s opening two grands prix and Fernando Alonso, the former world champion from Spain, said yesterday that he may leave the team and join Ferrari next season. “Sport is not easy, it is very complicated,” Briatore said. “It is about the people you put together, it is about luck. You need a lot ingredients to be successful. We will just try to do our best.” The Times

The Guardian/Mike McGrath - QPR sign £20m sponsorship deal

Queens Park Rangers have landed a £20m kit sponsorship deal with the Italian sportswear firm Lotto to add to their new wealth but Flavio Briatore insists the club will not be held to ransom despite their war chest. Briatore believes the five-year deal will help to build a foundation for success in the future although the co-owner is also wary of radical changes.
Should there be a need for a bigger stadium, Briatore wants the club to stay in west London. In the short term, the Championship club are looking for the right transfer targets rather than high-profile signings.
We are not going to throw away money at all," Briatore said. "We [will] try to put the club together in the right way and what we have done now is a demonstration of that. We are not the new blood of football. QPR is QPR, Chelsea are Chelsea - we will do it our way.
"If we say which players we want, the price is 10 times bigger. When somebody arrives in the business people say that it is new blood to suck. There is nothing to suck here. We don't have blood."

Briatore, who runs the Renault grand prix team, owns QPR with the formula one rights owner, Bernie Ecclestone, and the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. Their investment has seen the club linked with a host of players. "We have a wish list," said Amit Bhatia, QPR Holdings' vice-chairman.

Ecclestone considered nearby Chelsea before Roman Abramovich took over but Briatore did not want to make comparisons between the clubs. Abramovich brought almost instant success to Stamford Bridge but Briatore says he is merely looking to build foundations.

"We want to consolidate the club and create a base," he said. "This year our goal is to stay in the Championship. We need to do it step by step. We want to build up a club. You want to start from the bottom and create a new club, this is exciting. It's a new adventure. It is a club in the middle of London, probably the best location in the city. The club has a story behind it and a lot of potential, as we've seen already." Guardian

FINANCIAL TIMES - Lotto Sport Italia deal makes QPR continental
By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent

Queen Park Rangers' unlikely connections with international wealth and glamour continued apace with the announcement that Lotto Sport Italia would become kit supplier of the mid-table Football League Championship team in a deal worth £20m ($40m).

The once high-flying west London side attracted attention in November when it was taken over by Flavio Briatore, owner of the Renault F1 team, and Bernie Ecclestone, Formula One Management's chief executive.

After clearing a £13m debt, they added to the club's new-found lustre by attracting investment from Lakshmi Mittal, the billionaire steel magnate, and have now persuaded one of Italy's biggest sports clothing retailers to join the party.

Lotto Sport Italia will provide new kits and training gear and develop fashionable QPR-branded shoes and clothes. The value of the deal, over five years, is dependent on QPR gaining promotion to the Premier League.

Amit Bhatia, vice-charman and Mr Mittal's son-in-law, said the QPR board hoped this would be the first of several deals and that it would attract attention from other corporations.

"We are dedicated to try and make this team a success," Mr Bhatia said. "We have a really solid base of young players."

The vice-chairman sought to disabuse QPR supporters of the assumption that the club's high-profile and wealthy owners would throw money at the team in an attempt to catapult it back into the elite of English football.

"The reality is the opposite. The idea is to be very prudent, not to throw money at the club but to spend wisely," he said. "The shareholders are successful people and they became successful by spending wisely and prudently."

Mr Bhatia added that their aims were neither to lose money running the club nor to profit extensively from it.

"You have to have a nice balance," Mr Bhatia explained.

"Everybody involved loves their football and is a fan first. But do we think QPR has potential? Absolutely." Financial Times

The TELEGRAPH/Mike McGrath - Queens Park Rangers' £20 million deal

Queens Park Rangers have announced a £20 million deal with kit manufacturers Lotto Sport to add to their new wealth - but co-owner Flavio Briatore said the club would not be held to ransom in the transfer market.

Briatore said the five-year deal is part of building a foundation for success in the future, and added that, should there be a need for a bigger stadium, he wanted the club to stay in the same area of west London. In the short term, the club are looking for the right transfer targets rather than high-profile signings.

advertisement"We are not going to throw away money at all," he said. "We are trying to put the club together in the right way and what we have done now is a demonstration of that. We are not the new blood of football. QPR are QPR, Chelsea are Chelsea - we will do it our way."

Briatore owns QPR with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal - with the new investment leading to the club being linked with a host of players.

"This year our goal is to stay in the Championship. You need to do it step by step. You want to start from the bottom and create a new club, this is exciting. It's a new adventure." Telegraph

This is London/Daily Mail - What a Lotto QPR have got as they cook up a tasty dish

Such is the showbiz buzz around Queens Park Rangers these days that the mere sight of co-owner Flavio Briatore jetting into London from the Malaysian Grand Prix can generate its own micro-climate of rumours.

He arrived in a blizzard, and the word was that the new owners were thinking of changing the club's name to West London Rangers, wanted to build a new stadium, design a new badge and abandon the traditional blue and white hoops.

Playboy: Briatore and vice-chairman Amit Bhatia

Briatore swept into Loftus Road looking every inch the international playboy: suntanned, luxuriantly coiffured, wearing blue-lensed spectacles and a cashmere scarf tucked inside his upturned collar.

He was here to announce a new £20million, five-year kit deal not with Versace but with Italian firm Lotto. There will not be a Roman chariot embroidered into the sleeve and, to the disappointment of sports photographers, it was not about to be super-modelled by Naomi Campbell.

Lotto insist the hoops will remain. In fact, to the relief of those Rangers supporters convinced this is all too good to be true and there simply has to be a catch, there were no terrifying rebranding schemes in the air.

'A new name?' laughed Briatore, shaking his head. 'Maybe we should call it Oxford,' he added, laughing again at his own joke, which no one else could work out.

Renault's F1 team leader Briatore and the sport's overlord Bernie Ecclestone completed their joint takeover of QPR in November, before quickly selling 20 per cent of the shares to Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, the world's fifth richest man. Between them the trio could dwarf Roman Abramovich's estimated £500m investment in Chelsea without losing much sleep but, yesterday, Briatore was in no mood for fantasy.

'Do not be confused,' said the Italian. 'Although the shareholders are wealthy the club is in a completely different situation, we won't be throwing away money. It is completely wrong to compare QPR to Chelsea. We are doing the thing our way.

'We won't sit here and talk about the players we want to buy because we want to make sure the price is not 10 times bigger. When somebody arrives in a new business, everybody says: “Oh my God, this is the new guy, the new blood to suck”. There's nothing to suck here.'

This is unlikely to extinguish the excitement around Shepherds Bush. The new owners instantly wiped out £13m of debt and bought well in the January transfer window to help new manager Luigi De Canio haul the club up the Championship table.

'When we arrived QPR were not much,' said Briatore. 'We were starting from the beginning. Our first goal was to make sure we weren't relegated. When we took over the club that did not look so easy but the players and Gigi have done a fantastic job.

'The club is alive. QPR is safe. Without us there would be no QPR any more. This is the biggest difference between us being here and not being here. We are 50 per cent safe in mid-table and we are playing good football, some of the best in this league, and the fans love it.

'Everybody asks why we bought QPR. We are a bunch of friends together who want to do something in football and this is the right approach. We wanted to start from the bottom and create a new club. This way it is more exciting.'

The type of glamour-puss friends Briatore and Ecclestone keep will ensure that as many cameras are trained on the directors' box inside Loftus Road as they are on the pitch for the rest of the season.

Then all the attention will be on how Rangers, relegated from the Barclays Premier League in 1996, will behave in the summer transfer market as they equip themselves for an assault on promotion.

'Before I came here I didn't know QPR existed,' said Briatore, who thought he was buying a barbecue restaurant when the business proposition was first put to him by Ecclestone. 'But I was in Kuala Lumpur and three or four people stopped me to talk about QPR. Everybody is talking about QPR.' This is London

Fearless Flavio Briatore yesterday unveiled a new £20million sponsorship deal for QPR then insisted: "I won't get ripped off like Roman Abramovich".

The F1 team owner, who has taken over at Loftus Road with billionaires Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal, refused to say which players the club are targeting to turn them into superpowers. But he said QPR will challenge for the Championship title next season and play in the Premier League the season after that.

"It's between us and our sporting director the players that we are thinking of," said Briatore. "Otherwise when I try to buy players the price becomes 10 times bigger.

"You only have to look at what has happened with Chelsea. We are working to ensure that if we go up we will stay up and not come straight back down."

Since Abramovich took over at Stamford Bridge in 2003, Chelsea have splashed out £17m on Damien Duff then were forced to take a £12m loss on him when he moved to Newcastle for £5m in 2006.

Other players on which they have had to take huge losses include £16.8m striker Hernan Crespo, who left for Inter Milan on a free transfer, and £15m forward Adrian Mutu, who was sacked after failing a drugs test.

But Briatore, who signed a five-year shirt deal with Lotto yesterday, said: "We will not throw any money away. Even though we are wealthy there is no blood to suck. QPR is QPR, Chelsea is Chelsea.

"Next year we will try to improve our position, but right now we want to consolidate the club and provide a good base.

"I chose QPR because the location of the stadium is the best. Its also a club with a lot of potential.

"A few years ago Bernie tried to buy Chelsea and Abramovich paid more for it. So we want to create our own club. It's very exciting. Now we want to build up from the bottom." Mirror

See Also:
- Detailed Reports of Briatore's Comments and Plans
- Also: Other Reports on Sponsorship, Finances and Plans

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