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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Marking One Year of Ali Russell as QPR's De Facto CEO...Snippet: QPR Interest in Palermo's Ciro Capuano?

- Visit the football-only, QPR Report Messageboard for additional articles, old video and posters' opinions. All perspectives welcome! Even better than posting your views on this blog; is posting them on the QPR Report Messageboard! (To post: there's an extremely brief Messageboard Registration) step. -- Snippet: QPR Interest in Palermo's Ciro Capuano?

One Year Ago Today, Ali Russell "Officially" Joins QPR
- One Year ago today, January 15, 2008, after a few days of reports from Scotland (see below), the QPR Official site listed Hearts' Commercial Manager, Ali Russell Officially at QPR. His position: Deputy Managing Director. (Alejandro Agag holds the position of "Managing Director. Gianni Paladini was QPR FC Chairman).
QPR Official Site Directory: QPR FC Chairman - Gianni Paladini; Managing Director - Alejandro Agag; Deputy Managing Director - Ali Russell; Stadium Director - John MacDonald: Financial Controller - Gavin Taylor: Club Secretary - Sheila Marson QPR Report

A Day After Posting His Name on the Staff List, Came the QPR Official Announcement
QPR Official Site - JANUARY 16, 2008 - RUSSELL APPOINTED
Former Heart of Midlothian Commercial Director Ali Russell has been appointed as Deputy Managing Director of Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
Russell, who moved to Tynecastle in 2005 after previously occupying the position as Head of Marketing at the Scottish Rugby Union, will work in partnership with new Managing Director Alejandro Agag.
Thirty-six year-old Russell also fills the role of Commercial & Marketing Director, working alongside his deputy David Orman, who was appointed a fortnight ago.
The Club is also pleased to confirm the recent appointment of John MacDonald as Stadium Director. Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, Russell said: "I'm delighted to have joined Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
"It's a highly exciting stage of development here at this Club.
"The backing that the Club has now is absolutely vast and this is a fantastic opportunity for me."
*An exclusive interview with Ali Russell will be available on QPR World soon. QPR Official Site

Thursday, January 17, 2008 - The Scotsman/Barry Anderson - Anderton tips Russell to prosper with QPR

AFTER Vladimir Romanov and his Russian comrades, Ali Russell is now at the mercy of Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and their Italian friends. Some might say out of the frying pan into the fire, but Phil Anderton is backing his former colleague to drive Queens Park Rangers' rejuvenation just as the club's Formula One-obsessed owners demand.

Russell left his position as Hearts' commercial director last week to head to London and become QPR's deputy managing director, for which read de facto chief executive. The title is temporary until previous CEO Mark Devlin concludes his lawsuit against the club. It is no small step for Russell, who shadowed Anderton's moves by following a strictly commercial path from Coca-Cola to Hearts via the Scottish Rugby Union.

Devlin was ousted from Loftus Road during an impromptu board meeting last year at which none other than Carlos Dunga, the Brazilian national coach, had the decisive vote. It is understood Dunga's agent had invested money in QPR and asked the former World Cup winner to represent him at the meeting, and Devlin was left privately seething by his removal. Russell has been recruited to work alongside new chairman Gianni Paladini, a former agent entrusted with the task of fronting Ecclestone and Briatore's joint £20million investment. Life at Hearts ensures Russell is well prepared for any turbulence in London, although a new career in a Formula One-style fast lane may take some getting used to.

"QPR is a great opportunity for him. I'm actually a little bit jealous," said Anderton, who was sacked as Hearts chief executive by Romanov in 2005 and now works in London as chief marketing officer with the Association of Tennis Professionals. "QPR have Ecclestone and Co, they're buying players and it's an exciting time to be working for a club like that. Ali has done extremely well to get that position.

"The difference between being a marketing executive and being a CEO is you can't do it all yourself. You're responsible for financial issues, marketing, commercial. Suddenly there are loads of areas you never had responsibility for before. That's when you need to get the right people in and delegate well, let others get on with it. That's a skill Ali will work on.

"He has a sound, down-to-earth commercial reality about him. He knows what's going to work and what isn't, but he's also willing to try things and I liked that about him. Coming into sport from a consumer goods background he had a lot of initiative, he was never the typical old-school administrator who sits back and waits for things to happen. He wants to make them happen.

"I made the transition from marketing to CEO and a lot of the principles are the same. He'll need a thorough understanding of what the club is about, what the guys investing the money want to achieve, what the club's strengths and weaknesses are. Then he can come up with a plan."

While chief executive at Murrayfield, Anderton hired Russell and then repeated the appointment when he moved to Hearts. Both know the stringent demands of Romanov well but Anderton predicts a slightly more straightforward existence for his former colleague at Loftus Road.

"Hopefully at QPR he'll actually be told what the plans are. I'm a bit dubious about whether he's actually ever been told what the expectations are at Hearts," he continued. "When I brought Ali to the club he was fully aware of the situation and there was always an element of risk. But the upside was clear because getting yourself into football makes you contacts that can take you onto the next level. I think that's what has happened with Ali." The eventual rise to such a prominent position as chief executive won't be without difficulties for Russell, however. Anderton recalled his own transition period at Tynecastle to offer valuable advice.

"I hadn't been involved in football when I became CEO at Hearts," he explained. "I didn't know agents or players and we weren't only operating in a Scottish market. We were looking in England and eastern Europe and no doubt they'll be doing the same at QPR. I brought on board a few agents, people like John Colquhoun, George Wright and John Calderwood. I told them what I was trying to achieve, the monies and parameters I had and asked them to help me by finding player resources and offering us opportunities.

"That then means you aren't the one floundering around on your own. I found that approach extremely helpful. I remember the whole recruitment of George Burley, that involved working with George Wright an
d John Calderwood. We had a couple of strategies, a list of world-class managers and then a separate list of other candidates.

"They then made contacts, finding out what people's positions were and whether there was any interest. I learned from those guys the best ways to approach and handle certain people. You learned what skills a candidate had, whether their career was on the ascendancy and if they would fit in with the culture of Romanov. That approach might be something Ali chooses to do."

Meanwhile, how do Hearts attempt to replace Russell, the man who negotiated the biggest commercial deal in club history when Umbro agreed to pay £2million for kit manufacturing rights? Anderton is coy.

"Who knows how things operate at Hearts now. I can't really answer that. Predicting what goes on at Tynecastle these days isn't something I'd make a lot of money on if I was a betting man." The Scotsman

From QPR Report January 12, 2008 - Ali Russell Leaves Hearts for QPR" - A Hearts Fan Perspective- Hearts Fan Blogger "Diary of a Hearts Fan" offers view of Ali Russll's time at Hearts
Hearts - Ali Russell leaves Hearts for QPR
Hearts commercial director Ali Russell has left the building.

"The former SRU executive has quit Tynecastle for the chief executive hotseat at QPR reputedly at least quadrupling his salary at Hearts. Either way, there will be mixed emotions for fans...."

Full Fan Blogger Post:January 11, 2008 - Ali Russell leaves Hearts for QPR
Hearts commercial director Ali Russell has left the building.
The former SRU executive has quit Tynecastle for the deputy managing director's hotseat at QPR reputedly at least quadrupling his salary at Hearts.
He is also named as the club's Commercial and Marketing Director.
Either way, there will be mixed emotions for fans.
Many disliked what was often perceived as an aloof, off-hand persona.
Some disliked the way he handled himself on occasions when plans failed or events were bungled.
But, given time, he established a reputation for himself and the club.
The likes of Umbro came aboard with a kit deal, Barcelona agreed to a pre-season friendly and outside agencies were brought in to negotiate better deals for next season.
The festive spend in shops was up seven per-cent year on year.
But spending on advertising is said to be up, especially with TV, and others question how much value the commercial department has brought in.

I had the odd spat with Ali over Planet Hearts relationship with the club, which was at times fraught.

My opinion was they could have benefitted from working with us. His view was different.

But that's football.

Socially he could be engaging, and because our ideas differed from time to time, it didn't affect the fact that he had to do what he thought was best for the club and himself, and I for the paper.

In time I learned to enjoy his company and we, I think, managed to sort a few things out when last we met.

Sadly diary clashes and his new job meant our next coffee was always postponed.

And it was my round too.

Rumour has it he starts at Loftus Road next week, and I for one would wish him luck.

It is a big move for someone with big ambition, away from the many distractions that came with Hearts.

And will be as interesting to see who follows in his footsteps, as it will to watch how he adapts to the step up that follows with his new posting.

Either way, after the past few years in Gorgie, let's hope he does well, and prove his former doubters wrong.

NB: thanks to QPR report for confirming his new official title deputy managing director as opposed to the rumoured chief executive position. Full Assessment of Ali Russell's time at Hearts
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