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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

AGM Report by Ben Kosky - Directors re ABC Loan; Selling Up...Winton dispute

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - More interest... but not in the club

QPR board members have confirmed that the club will be facing steeper payments on their ABC loan over the next five years.
As Rangers chairman Gianni Paladini revealed in the Times last month, the club's failure to pay off their £10m borrowing means they must cope with an increased interest rate until 2012.
Solicitor Kevin Steele, who became a non-executive director last season, told shareholders at Friday's annual general meeting that the board's strenuous efforts to find new finance had not yet borne fruit.
"In discussions with various banks, hedge funds, you name it, we have found that they are not prepared to take on a loan for a football club," said Steele.
"There are two reasons for this. One is the adverse publicity of - if the worst were to happen - a bank taking over a football club and closing it down. Then they would end up with an empty stadium on which they were paying rates.
"We've all been negotiating very hard and we still have the possibility of outside investment coming in, but the loans are with us for the foreseeable future."
Under the terms of the ABC loan, which enabled QPR to come out of administration in 2002, the interest rate will now rise to 11.59 per cent, although Steele is confident of negotiating a slight reduction on that.
Since a proposed deal with Oldham chairman Simon Blitz collapsed at the end of last season, the board have continued to hold discussions with potential buyers.
Paladini confirmed at Friday's meeting that he had spoken to a group represented by Ronny Rosenthal, the former Israeli international striker, and now an agent.
Paladini and Antonio Caliendo, the chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd, have both offered to step down and sell their shares for their original purchase price, as well as writing off six-figure loans to the club.
Legal adviser Nick de Marco, who is also a non-executive member of the board, stated: "They will not call in their loans unless the club goes into the Premiership.
"There are people with pots of gold out there, but most of them have it because they are careful with their money and investing in a football club can be a risky business."
Nevertheless, the club's turnover increased by £636,000 in the 2005-06 season, and the imminent increase in Sky TV money, as well as a major reduction in the wage bill, gives De Marco plenty of hope for the future.
He added: "Last year the overspend was largely due to the number of players, but John [Gregory] has drastically cut the squad and that's why projected losses are down."
The meeting, which saw all resolutions passed, including the re-election of Caliendo as chairman, was otherwise noteworthy for only two reasons.
Persistent problems with the sound system meant that many shareholders struggled to hear questions and answers - although they did manage to hear an irate outburst from club president Harold Winton.
Winton vehemently denied unidentified claims that he and his family had benefited financially from the sale of teenage midfielder Dean Parrett to Tottenham.
Winton, who funded the signing of Danny Shittu from Charlton in 2002, added: "We have so far not taken one penny of our investment back on Shittu.
"Our entire profit is being loaned to the club indefinitely to buy another player for QPR and we have earmarked that player.
"We will continue to do every single thing we can to support the board and the club and see that this club is successful and continues in a progressive manner.
Kilburn Times

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