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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Briatore Speaks "I Know What I'm Doing....[I]t’s ridiculous we need someone with experience"!

The Times/Kaveh Solhekol - Flavio Briatore will do it his way
It is a cold Saturday afternoon in November and most league chairmen are tucking into their prematch meals before they put on their expensive overcoats and head for the best seats in the house. The odd man out is Flavio Briatore, the flamboyant Italian tycoon who, along with some of the richest men in the world, added Queens Park Rangers to his portfolio of business interests last year.
If it is the first Saturday in November, it must mean that he is at the Brazilian Grand Prix watching Renault, his Formula One team, race for the final time this season. “I’m here to talk about anything you want,” he said. “Queens Park Rangers, football, Formula One, I’m all yours.”
Briatore wants to get a lot off his chest. When he saved QPR from bankruptcy in August last year, the club’s fans were dancing in the streets around Loftus Road. QPR were about to become the richest club in the world thanks to Briatore and his billionaire friends, Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights holder, and Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate. But progress has been slow, ignoring the dramatic transformation of the directors’ box and boardroom.
“The directors’ areas outplush even Abramovich’s Chelsea,” Karren Brady, the Birmingham City managing director, said after her team lost 1-0 in London on Tuesday. “It’s the fantasy boardroom experience.”
Cynics would say that the VIP areas, ticket prices, the club badge and the manager are all that have changed since London’s beautiful people started turning up in Shepherds Bush to get their fix of what Briatore likes to call boutique football. On the pitch, QPR made a decent but lacklustre start to the season and all hell broke loose ten days ago when Briatore sacked Iain Dowie.
I was not happy with the football that Dowie was producing, simple as that,” Briatore said. “I know what I am doing. I have won World Championships in Formula One. I have not come from the steel business or the finance business, I am from the sport business.”
So, is there truth in the rumour that Dowie resigned when Briatore handed him a list of players he had to pick for the game against Reading on October 25? “It was just a normal discussion,” Briatore said. “The coach is important but the money is coming from us. If we had not made the decision about Dowie, the season could have been a big disaster. I’m not scared to make a decision. Not making a decision is often a bad decision.”
Briatore wants Gareth Ainsworth to replace Dowie but his business partners are not convinced that the 35-year-old caretaker manager is the right man for the job, especially after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat away to Ipswich Town. Amit Bhatia, the vice-chairman, and Ecclestone are worried that Ainsworth is inexperienced and ten candidates, including Sam Allardyce, Steve Cotterill, Terry Venables, Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli and David O’Leary, have been sounded out.
“This is speculation,” Briatore said. “You give a chance to people who deserve it. Gareth deserves a chance. I gave Michael Schumacher a chance in Formula One, so it’s ridiculous we need someone with experience.”
One of QPR’s best performances since Briatore arrived at the club was in West London six days ago. Down to ten men for half the game with most of Briatore’s favourite Italian players on the pitch, QPR beat Birmingham to climb to seventh in the Coca-Cola Championship.
Briatore was roaring his team on and instructing Ainsworth and his players from the directors’ box. “In the papers they say that I choose the team but this is crazy,” he said. “I know I’m not a normal chairman but I can’t pick the team from Brazil." The Times

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