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Friday, March 02, 2007

QPR's Three New Board Members Profiled & Interviewed: Chairman Paladini Explains Their Appointment

David McIntyre - Rs welcome ‘Nico- - the Internet bruiser
Ealing Gazette

Chairman Gianni Paladini has handed a staunch ally a place on the QPR board.
Barrister Nick De Marco is one of three legal experts to have been installed as non-executive directors. Property lawyers Jason Kallis and Kevin Steele have
also been rewarded for work on behalf of the club with seats on the board.

All are Rangers fans and De Marco - a steadfast supporter of the Italian regime at Loftus Road – has been acting as the club’s legal advisor for some time.
He is a well-known and controversial figure among fans groups. His elevation to the board is a bold statement by Paladini. Posting under the name ‘Nico’, he has become notorious on Internet messageboards for warring with dissatisfied fans.

His renewal of membership of the QPR Loyal Supporters Association last year caused a bitter feud within the organisation.

Two longstanding committee members resigned after he was granted ‘associate membership’. Some allege De Marco deliberately set out to divide
supporters on behalf of Paladini and has sought to control their interaction with the club. Paladini has placed him in charge of organising and chairing meetings with the various supporter organisations that now exist.

The club also caused a stir when, acting on De Marco’s advice, it threatened to sue the fanzine ‘A Kick Up The R’s’ over allegations regarding Paladini’s dealings.

De Marco accepts his elevation to the board will cause consternation among “a small minority” of supporters. But he insisted: “I was never interested in splitting
the LSA.

“I was a supporter who worked as an unpaid legal advisor to the club – a fact I never tried to hide. “It was simply a case of renewing my membership and
there was no rule against LSA members working for the club or, for that matter, being on the board. “Other people made an issue out of it and it wasn’t me
who saw it all as a litmus test for the LSA. “I simply paid my £5 and took the associate membership I was offered. My role and influence in the LSA is

De Marco also denies his directorship has been in the pipeline for some time and is merely payback for his unceasing support for Paladini. “Gianni asked me two or three weeks ago,” De Marco said. “I was surprised. It wasn’t something we had discussed

“I didn’t agree to it first of all. What persuaded me was that Kevin and Jason agreed to join the board and I trust them both as QPR fans and quality lawyers.
“I was also persuaded because of the possibility of more additions to the board in the near future. “I defended Gianni on the Internet because, as a fan,
I thought he seemed good for the club.

“I then started to give legal advice and since then I’ve seen at first hand the commitment Gianni and the Monaco investors put in.”
De Marco has suggested that Rangers’ problems, including a succession of rumours and bad-news stories, have been caused by sympathisers of ex-chairman Bill Power trying to stir trouble. “Of course it isn’t all down to that,” De Marco admitted.

“I wouldn’t blame any fans or indeed the previous
board for things that have gone wrong. But it would
also be silly to blame it all on the current board.”
He added: “The financial position of the club is
better that it has been for quite a few years.
“We’ve been in a perilous position and would have been
in administration were it not for the Monaco

Kallis and Steele helped secure a significant legal
victory for the club.
American Tim Krause, once one of the many would-be
investors courted by QPR before Paladini entered the
fray, claimed to have been given a 10-year catering
contract at the club.

Rangers faced paying out a huge sum before Kallis and
Steele offered to help after being introduced to
Paladini by Andrew Ellis, who attempted a takeover of
the club in 2001 and whose father Peter Ellis was
chairman between 1994 and 1996.

Kallis said: “It was a case of a job well done and
Gianni then asked us to join as non-executive

"The current board at QPR inherited some legal
problems, which we were more than happy to solve for

“Knowing what the club’s been through, I know there’s
bound to be scepticism whenever anyone joins the
board, but myself and Kevin are QPR through and through.”

With some fans suspicious of the QPR board and fearing
for the future of Loftus Road given the club’s
financial problems, Paladini is adamant they should
read nothing into his hiring of property experts.
“People shouldn’t see it like that,” Paladini

“We will not be moving. It just isn’t something we’re
thinking about.”
Paladini feels appointing new directors without any
direct investment in return is justified.
He says Kallis and Steele have saved the club over

“That is as deserving as any investment and their expertise is great for us,” Paladini said.
“And some might criticise Nick De Marco, but he is a
great barrister who has worked tirelessly for this
club without a penny in return.

“These people have been supporting QPR for much longer
than me and they are the future of the club. I hope
they’ll be involved long after me.”

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