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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Briatore Stories....Preparing For Chelsea Without Being Distracted By Briatore (Meanwhile Silence on the Official Site)

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Rob Huges/New York Times September 23, 2009 - Briatore Poses a Problem for English Soccer

LONDON — This is a defining week for the standing of English soccer.

It began Monday in the very north of the country, where a cast of a thousand gathered at Durham cathedral to bid the final farewell to Bobby Robson.

The son of a coal miner, Robson came up from earth to play and then to manage for two-thirds of his life. His last audience, by invitation only, could have summed up his contribution in a word: integrity.

As the eulogies were read, Flavio Briatore, a relative newcomer to English club soccer, was formally excommunicated from his first game, motor racing.

The connection is not tenuous because the men who govern English soccer have to decide, and very rapidly, whether Briatore is fit to run a club in England.

He is the chairman and part owner of Queens Park Rangers in west London. The league’s rules are explicit. An owner, prospective owner or director of a club should not be “subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport.”

As of Monday, Briatore is banned indefinitely from all motor sports. The World Motor Sport Council found that Briatore had instructed his driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash his Renault car in Singapore last year, and had continued to deny his part in the deception despite all the evidence.

This is where the two sports are joined. Robson’s playing career began at Fulham, a stone’s throw from Q.P.R. in west London, and a club of similar size and stature in the sport.

All that Robson learned and later passed on to generations of players not just in England but in the Netherlands, Portugal and, at the highest level of club soccer, at Barcelona, sprang from his Fulham days. All that needs firm protection in England’s major sport today — a sport whose clubs are increasingly owned by foreign investors — might depend on how the soccer overlords deal with Briatore.

He has friends in the game. After Briatore resigned from Renault, Adriano Galliani, who runs AC Milan for its owner, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, defended Briatore.

“I spoke with him five minutes ago,” Galliani said on Italian television. “I don’t think Briatore did anything.

“He has done a noble gesture in order to save his team and many jobs.”

Whether the English soccer league judges Briatore noble, or Formula One a sport, remains to be seen.

On Tuesday, as Briatore announced that he plans to sue the motor-racing authority for damage to his reputation, the English authorities equivocated. Brian Mawhinney, the former politician who was elevated to the House of Lords and became chairman of the Football League, in which Q.P.R. plays, has written to the motor racing authority requesting clarification of Briatore’s case.

Meanwhile, in the words of Bernie Ecclestone, the supremo of Formula One and a co-owner of Q.P.R., has joked that his erstwhile friend now has time on his hands to become more closely involved in running the soccer club.

That might not be the news Jim Magilton, the Q.P.R. coach, needs to hear right now. Magilton is the ninth different man appointed to coach the team since Briatore and Ecclestone bought controlling shareholdings in the club. The pair have since been joined by the Indian steel tycoon Amit Bhati.

One of the short-stop coaches, the Portuguese Paulo Sousa, departed after 20 matches amid rumblings that Briatore was picking the side. Briatore said he would sue journalists who repeated that rumor, and sue anybody who said that Q.P.R. had sacked any of its coaches. The contracts were terminated, Briatore insisted, but nobody was fired.

Q.P.R., which once fleetingly had Brazil’s Carlos Dunga on its board, lies just below midtable in the second tier of English soccer. It has yet to win a home game this season, and travels a few kilometers to face Chelsea, a somewhat more successful, foreign-owned club, in the English League Cup on Wednesday.

Magilton’s brief is to get Q.P.R. into the Premier League, pronto. Briatore is doing his bit, by using his extensive network of contacts through Formula One to get sponsors, such as Gulf Air, on board.

As chairman of the holding company that owns Q.P.R., Briatore is the most visible presence at the club, which turns over its coaching staffs as rapidly as Formula One teams change tires. He wants to be at the top, alongside Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich, Fulham’s Mohamed al Fayed, and eight other overseas owners in the Premier League.

Formula One’s loss might be English soccer’s dubious gain. Briatore has been a winner as team principal, not the least when he employed Michael Schumacher to drive for Benetton.

Schumacher was a ruthless competitor involved in several questionable incidents, although he was only punished after he had left Benetton for Ferrari. In 1997 he was disqualified from the championship for trying to knock Jacques Villeneuve off the track in the European Grand Prix. It could be argued that his sudden swerves or stops on the track were spur-of-the moment decisions.

Just as Diego Maradona’s leap to fist in a goal that helped eliminate England from the 1986 World Cup was instinctive. England’s manager that day? Bobby Robson.

What Maradona described as “The Hand of God,” Robson called “The Hand of a Rascal.”

Robson’s tenet was that you play to win, but within the rules. He was modest and would have been embarrassed to hear Manchester United’s manager, Alex Ferguson say on Monday: “Bobby was an influence on me from the day we met, and still is an influence on me. There are no secrets in football, it’s how you impart your knowledge. What made him so special was that he influenced people he didn’t know.”

Ferguson described Robson as going where few Englishmen went to coach in the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Yet, seated close to Ferguson was Roy Hodgson, now at Fulham, whose 16 coaching roles took him from Scandinavia to Switzerland, Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

Another Englishman, Bob Houghton, coaches India’s national team, after working in 10 countries, including the United States, China and Uzbekistan.

Long before it started happily grasping foreign soccer investment, England was an exporter of soccer expertise.

Robson himself remembered the pathfinder, Jimmy Hogan, English of Irish descent. Hogan was praised by Sandor Barcs, the president of the Hungary’s magical side that humiliated England in 1953, as “the man who taught us everything we know about football.”

Robson simply kept the ball rolling, magnificently.

SkySports - Magilton focused on football
QPR boss will not be distracted by Briatore row

- QPR manager Jim Magilton has vowed not to be distracted by the off-field row surrounding the club's joint owner Flavio Briatore.
- The Football League are studying Briatore's indefinite ban from Formula One after the former Renault team principal instructed driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash deliberately in the Singapore Grand Prix to aid his team-mate Fernando Alonso.
- Briatore's future at Loftus Road is now in doubt as league rules state that owners or directors should not be "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport".
- But Magilton does not want behind-the-scenes controversy to distract his players as they prepare for Wednesday's eye-catching Carling Cup third round trip to Chelsea.
- He told Sky Sports News: "At the end of the day, I'm here as the manager of the football club. That situation will take care of itself.
- "My job and remit is to make sure I'm focused on the players and the players are then focused on their job. The other side will take care of itself."
Nothing to lose
- The Rs enjoyed an impressive 2-0 success away to Cardiff on Saturday and Magilton is eager to take the confidence gained from that victory into their testing trip to Stamford Bridge.
- He added: "When you win a game of football life is rosy and when you lose it is pretty miserable. What we have to try and do is keep an even keel.
- "When you're winning you've got to try and enjoy that. We've won one game against a good side. People are coming in buoyant and looking forward to a big game.
- "We'll keep our feet on the ground and go there to enjoy the occasion and I hope our supporters do too.
- "It's a great day out for the lads and our supporters and it's a game in which we have nothing to lose." SkySports

QPR Report

member is online

BBC Magilton shrugs off Briatore talk

Magilton not distracted by Briatore furore

QPR manager Jim Magilton says his team must not be distracted by off-the-field speculation regarding Flavio Briatore.

The Championship club is under the spotlight after co-owner Briatore was banned by Formula 1's governing body following the race-fixing scandal.

According to Football League rules, no-one can own a club if they are banned by another sporting governing body.

Magilton said the players were aware of Briatore's position but was determined to keep them "focused on their jobs".

"We are not being naïve," Magilton told BBC London 94.9, who is busy readying his side for Wednesday's Carling Cup tie with Chelsea.

"My job as a manager is to keep them focused on their jobs. The next job is Chelsea away and we'll all be concentrating on that."

Magilton also shrugged off suggestions that a change of ownership could affect his own position.

"As far as I'm concerned, I am the manager of the football club, so let's hope that continues for quite some time," he said.

The Football League has asked the FIA for more details of Briatore's ban before deciding whether to take action.

Briatore bought into QPR in 2007
The 59-year-old Italian left his post as Renault team principal last week, along with executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, after the team decided not to contest FIA charges of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The charges were brought after driver Nelson Piquet Jr claimed he had been asked to crash in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso.

At a World Motor Sport Council hearing on Monday, the FIA banned Briatore from all FIA-sanctioned events and said it would not grant a licence to any team Briatore was involved with or renew an F1 Superlicence granted to any driver associated with him.

Briatore is co-owner of QPR along with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

He is also chairman of the holding company that owns the club and a director on the board of the Championship side. BBC

BBC - Magilton not distracted by Briatore furore
- Video - http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/q/qpr/8268681.stm
- QPR manager Jim Magilton insists he and his players are "totally focused" on their Carling Cup tie at Chelsea, and are not distracted by the banning of the club's co-owner Flavio Briatore from Formula 1.

- Jim Magilton can't wait for the R's trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and believes his players head into the West London derby in confident mood.
- Saturday's stunning victory against Cardiff stretched the R's unbeaten run to five matches in all competitions and Magilton would love to make it six at the home of our near-neighbours.
- "Our players are really looking forward to it," he told www.qpr.co.uk.
- "After Saturday, there's a great confidence in the camp.
- "It will be a great test for us. We'll have to be very, very good, they'll have to be slightly below par, but we're very, very relaxed about it, because we know we're a good side.
- "We won't be intimidated though - we've got a lot of experience in the squad and we'll call upon that on the night."
- Magilton believes Rangers haven't got the rub of the green so far in the Championship in terms of results, but is adamant his squad are heading in the right direction.
- "We've been good, we've been indifferent - but our performances have definitely warranted more than the points we've got on the board at the moment," he said.
- "We're getting there in terms of where John and I want us to be.
- "Our job is to go there and give a really good account of ourselves for the thousands of Rangers fans that are making the trip to the Bridge."
- Chelsea are expected to make wholesale changes for the visit of the R's, with Didier Drogba, amongst others, likely to miss out with a calf injury.
- However, Magilton believes Rangers will need to be at their very best to leave Stamford Bridge with a victory.
- "They're one of the best, if not the best side in British football," he said.
- "But momentum in football is massive and we've got a bit with us after Saturday.
- "We're unbeaten ourselves in five and there's a great belief in the camp."
- Magilton added: "We may have one or two moments in the game that we've got to make count.
- "We know the quality in their side; it's there for all to see.
- "We'll go there looking to win the game though, make no mistake about that.
- "Okay, they may not play some of the big guns, but every lad that comes in will want to impress (Carlo) Ancelotti.
- "It's no different at any other Club. Every player wants to impress the boss."
- Magilton concluded: "It's a wonderful opportunity for our players to test themselves against the best players in Europe.
- "It gives us a taste of where this Club wants to be - where we all want to be.
- "It's a fantastic stadium and it will be a fantastic atmosphere.
- "Our job is to make sure the players are prepared for what will be our toughest test of the season.
- "We've trained well and we're ready for it!" QPR

Kilburn Times/Yann Tear - Magilton relishing QPR's derby test
-- JIM MAGILTON is promising a positive attitude from his players in their bid to cause an upset in tomorrow night's Carling Cup derby at Chelsea.

Rangers will be expected to succumb to their illustrious neighbours, even if the Blues field a slightly weaker team than usual, but the QPR boss says his players will not be cowed.

“It's a wonderful opportunity for the players to go and test themselves against the best players in Europe,” Magilton said.

“We may have one or two moments in the game but we've got to make them count. We know their quality, but we're going to go out with a very positive attitude.

“We have to catch them on an off day and we have to be very very good. We're hoping that our levels will rise, that we will go there and won't be intimidated and give a good account of ourselves.

“But it's one to relish, going to Stamford Bridge and it will be a good test. It's a fantastic stadium and there will be a fantastic atmosphere.”

Rangers were beaten 1-0 at the Bridge in an FA Cup tie hyped up soon after the current regime took over at the club.

There is likely to be less fanfare about Rangers' financial status this time around, but Rangers will again go into the match in a good frame of mind, in spite of the off-field questions over Flavio Briatore's future with the club.

“I think our performances have warranted better results and I think our curve is going up,” Magilton said. “There's been steady progress and Saturday [at Cardiff] was very encouraging for us.”

Talking about the possibility of facing an under-strength Blues, Magilton said: “What is a weakened side for Chelsea? They may not play the 11 that started on Sunday [against Tottenham] but those who are brought in will certainly want to impress.”

Keeper Tom Heaton, who played against Accrington in the last round, is expected to start tomorrow's match. Fitz Hall and Adel Taarabt are back in light training but the game is too soon for them. Matt Connolly will not feature and neither will Angelo Balanta and Heidar Helguson, who are both weeks away from returning to action. Kilburn Times

- There's mixed news from the treatment room this morning (Tuesday), as the countdown to our Carling Cup third round tie against Chelsea continues to gather pace.
- On the plus side, mercurial midfielder Adel Taarabt has returned to full training following a bout of mumps.
- The Spurs loanee missed Saturday's 2-0 victory at Cardiff City, but returned to full training on Monday morning and with Ben Watson Cup tied for the trip to Stamford Bridge, the Moroccan international could force his way into Jim Magilton's thinking for the local derby.
- Unfortunately, the news is less than positive where Matthew Connolly is concerned.
- The reliable defender is still laid low with a virus and is set to miss the trip to Stamford Bridge.
- However, fellow defender Fitz Hall is back in light training following a recent groin strain and could be in line to return in the next seven days.

QPR1st on Briatore
"QPR 1st is obviously concerned that the suspension of Flavio Briatore from Formula 1 may have an impact on his role as QPR's major shareholder. We hope that the situation can be clarified as soon as possible and that the financial stability of the club is not affecte."QPR1st

- QPR Wikipedia Updated "...Flavio Briatore's future as QPR chairman came under question in September 2009 after he left the Renault F1 team in the midst of race fixing allegations."

- From The Sun, "Flavio set for QPR KO" "...One club insider insisted: 'QPR under Briatore is a complete shambles - an amateur club could be run better.' The Sun

Sandy Macaskill /Telegraph
- Formula One ban threatens Flavio Briatore's position as Queens Park Rangers chairman
- Flavio Briatore's position as chairman of Queens Park Rangers Football Club is hanging by a thread following the International Automobile Federation's (FIA) ruling.

- Lord Mawhinney, the chairman of the Football League, has written to the World Motor Sport Council asking to be sent specific details about the FIA ban handed down to the former Renault team principal as a result of the race-fixing scandal.
- Briatore was handed what amounted to a lifetime ban from any FIA-sanctioned series on Monday, which under the Football League's 'fit and proper persons' test should also preclude him from holding any board-level role within the League.
- The League's qualifying rules state that nobody can be a director or hold a majority interest in a club if they are "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport".
- It is possible, however, that Briatore might yet escape that punishment. Sources at QPR aret hopeful that the fact the WMSC had not itself issued Briatore personally with a ban – it is unauthorised to hand out a lifetime bans so has instead banned its licensees from employing Briatore – could be his salvation.
- The Football League has stated that Briatore would have to be personally banned to fail the test.
- As such, the League has requested specific details of the FIA's meeting, and asked what it is exactly that he has been charged with, and how the punishment has been put together.
- A spokesman for the League confirmed that Lord Mawhinney "has written to the FIA to request further details of its decision. Thereafter, the League will consider its position on the matter".
- Should the board of the Football League decide that Briatore does indeed no longer meet the standards set by the fit and proper persons test, he would have to be replaced on the Championship club's board.
- The exact process is uncertain, as it has never happened before, but it is understood that QPR would first be asked to put their own house in order. Failing that, the League would step in
. Telegraph

- Post-Crashgate Speculation about Briatore's QPR Future and Football League Consideration

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