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Sunday, August 06, 2006

An Eventful Week for QPR as Chairman Paladini Lambasts Some Fans and Reveals a Plot

NB: Update: And then after writing/posting this, came the news of the plane crash involving former Chairman Bill Power, and apparently also Mark Devlin and his son. As of this writing, all were fairly badly injured but are alive.

Even for the last week prior to the start of the new season, it's been an eventful one for QPR and for Chairman Gianni Paladini.

The week started with the team having returned from their two-match trip to Italy and ended with QPR recovering from an opening 0-2 defeat at Burnley (with both goals coming from Burnley's new forward, who QPR themselves tried to sign.

Almost all punsters have predicted a season of intense struggle for QPR, with several tipping QPR for relegation. And QPR target, Stoke's Carl Henry joined Wolves. And during the week, QPR's center back Ian Evatt joined Blackpool on a six months loan.

For much of the week, there have been reports about Center half, Danny Shittu's transfer, with Paladini repeatedly declaring that the fee was 3 million pounds. By the end of the week, Shittu looked set for West Bromwich Albion as the two clubs agreed terms...A couple of days later, Shittu's signing was announced by Watford. The fee 1.6 million pounds up front. It could move up to 3 million, depending of appearances and Watford success. If there's a sell-on clause, it hasn't yet been revealed.

But perhaps the most noteworthy incident this week was the fan rumours that the training ground had been closed. A couple of newspapers reported on this asserted closing including the Daily Miror.

And then the club issued a couple of statements: One statement strongly criticizing the papers' reporting and another by Chairman Paladini making some very strong charges

And then the week came to an end with an interview in the Sunday Mirror with the Chairman in the in which he made some additional assertions about some unspecified fans...and also of a alleged threat to kill him.

So in his statement published on the QPR Official Site, Paladini among other things said:
"....It is frustrating that, despite all the hard work everyone has been doing during pre-season, a tiny minority of people seem intent on damaging team morale and destroying the Club in the run up to our important first game.
"Not only have they once again invented wholly false rumours about the state of the Club, but unfortunately a couple of journalists with a record of writing stories against QPR, and with links to some of the individuals intent on destabilising the Club, have blown up these rumours and made up stories from nothing.
"Last week it was suggested in some of the press that we were putting QPR up for sale. Unfortunately the journalists responsible for this story failed to even check the official statement from Antonio Caliendo, Chairman of Holdings, on the Club's official website, making clear the Board's continued commitment to QPR....
"The Club is in a better financial position than it has been in for a number of years. Things are still tough, but we have reduced the annual debt by millions and intend to reduce it further. Yet ridiculous rumours still seem to be invented by a few people for reasons beyond me.
"The latest is the absurd rumour suggested on a message board that the players were locked out of the Harlington training ground, when in fact Gary Waddock had just given them the day off as they had only recently arrived back from a busy schedule in Italy.
"The same newspaper that had to apologise for a series of inaccurate stories about me last season, the Evening Standard, then chose to repeat this wholly false rumour as fact without even checking with me, the coaching staff, or even Imperial College - the owners of the training ground.
"In an article by a journalist named Wayne Vesey, under the headline 'Locked-out Rangers are unable to train' the Standard claimed that the Club was locked out of the training ground on Monday. Such a clearly false statement damages the reputation of the Club, and the morale of the players and supporters. I have been advised it is libellous and our lawyers will be contacting the Standard immediately to demand a retraction.
"QPR fans will ask themselves why should people invent such rumours? The purpose can only be to destabilise the Club and to injure the morale of players and fans just days before the season kicks off. The Club will not allow another season to be derailed by these people.
"The Board, Gary Waddock and the coaching staff, and the players and other members of staff, are all united in our focus to move this great club forward and to achieve success this season on the pitch. We believe we have the squad and the resources to do so. We will not allow a tiny group of people, driven by an agenda that has nothing to do with football, to destroy this Club.
"I urge all fans to treat such rumour-mongers with the contempt and scepticism they deserve. They have been claiming we would go into administration every week for the past year, and they never admit they are wrong when we don't.
"They claimed we were locked out of the training ground before and even that the groundsmen would not cut the grass at the stadium. They predicted we would spend all the Club's money on agents' fees when we have spent less than nearly any other club in this division. They predicted we would sell off Loftus Road and all our best players because we could not afford their wages.
"Just yesterday they claimed we were locked out of the training ground because we could not afford the rent; but today, as scheduled, our players are training at the training ground. On each and every occasion their rumours have been proven false.
"As I believe you say in England, when someone cries wolf so many times, people stop listening. But every time the rumour-mongers are proven wrong they invent another rumour, so desperate to be proven right and for the Club to fail.
"For the last time I say to those who's criticism of the Board has developed into an agenda to undermine the Club, if you know of a better alternative to take QPR forward with the necessary funding to support it, then please let us know. Otherwise stop pursuing a divisive and destructive agenda. The Board, the players and staff and the thousands of fans of QPR will not allow a small selfish group to ruin the season for the rest of us.... " http://www.qpr.premiumtv.co.uk/page/News/NewsDetail/0,,10373~875457,00.html

And in his Sunday Mirror Interview, Paladini was reported as saying:
Sunday Mirror 6 August 2006

LIVING IN FEAR -Contract killer threat forces QPR chairman to wear a bullet-proof vest GIANNI PALADINI EXCLUSIVE Anthony Clavane

QPR chairman Gianni Paladini is living in fear after a contract was legedly put out on his life. Following advice by the police, the controversial Rangers chief now has to wear a bullet-proof vest.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Mirror Sport, Paladini hit out at fans opposed to his regime at Loftus Road, calling them the "enemy within".

Paladini said: "I find it incredible what's going on here. You have to fight against so many things. This must be the only club where the fans love to put s**t on their own club on the website."

Two weeks ago, a group of men were cleared of forcing Paladini to resign at gunpoint during a match against Sheffield United. The Italian tycoon claimed he was surrounded by hired thugs, punched and slapped, and then warned he'd be killed if he refused to sign a letter of resignation.

But a judge threw out the case against the men. There is no suggestion that any of those men are involved in the alleged contract on Paladini....

Ever since Paladini became a director of the debt-ridden Championship club he has faced hostile criticism from a section of supporters.

The Italian tycoon was furious to discover an attempt to sabotage an interview with him on the QPR website after he returned from the R's pre-season tour of his home country. He said: "I went mad. It's been cancelled now. They're trying to wind me up. I give up, I really do. I nearly got a heart attack when I saw it. "They put the face of a fan up there, somebody is stirring things up.

"Sometimes I wonder why I got myself involved in this situation. Whatever you do, you can't win. Even if you win the league and get promoted, you'll still have people who criticise.

"I feel like a dartboard. People are always throwing darts at me.

"We have an enemy within. What kind of people do these things? How can you be a QPR fan when you put this s**t in?"

Paladini also suspected foul play when one newspaper reported last week that Rangers players were turned away from their training ground because the rent had not been paid.
He blasted: "This did not happen. I have a statement showing we paid Imperial College, who we rent the ground from, £32,250 on 18 July. How can they shut it for non-payment two weeks after paying the rent? It's insane.

"There were people from a QPR fan group outside the training ground at 7.20am, putting it out that the players had been locked out. "But people were asleep at that time. The players didn't go in until 10am.

"They put out so much s**t, so much rubbish, that I just give up.

"Since I've come here there's been problem after problem after problem but now, thank God, it's all left behind. Now we will only concentrate on the football and take this club forward.

"With the players we've brought in and the new manager, Gary Waddock, we're looking forward to an exciting season.

"We've reduced the average age of the team and we've brought in players to give us stability for the next two or three years.

"It's been a very difficult time. But it's business as usual. I just carry on doing my job.

"In this game you need a lot of money. When I came here we were losing more than £500,000 a year but, by the end of next season, we should be out of debt.

"I'm lucky that the people with me they are prepared to put in money. This month, to pay the wages, they had to put in more money."

When I came here we got promoted and we've been two years in the Championship. Look at clubs like Birmingham, who spend eight or nine million, or Wolves, Coventry, Leeds. "They spend a fortune every year. They are on a very different level to us.

"Fortunately I've been involved in foot ball for the last 30 years and it's helped me a lot, because I1 can get certain players in."

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