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Sunday, August 06, 2006

QPR Chairman Paladini: "Living in Fear...Bullet Proof vest...Enemy Within"

Sunday Mirror 6 August 2006
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.

Former agent Paladini invested £600,000 in the West London outfit in March 2004 and was initially employed as a consultant to bring in players.

Last year he ousted Bill Power as QPR chairman, removed chief executive Mark Devlin and claimed victory in a bitter struggle for control of the club.

But one of his strongest allies, former Brazil skipper Carlos Dunga, resigned from the board last week after his shock appointment as his country's new national coach.

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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