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Thursday, October 08, 2009

It's Briatore Decision Day: Considerations... Gestafe's Lucas Licht for QPR?

There are TWO QPR Report sites: This site: QPR Report. And for cutting-edge, up-to-the-minute news re anything QPR-related: There is also the QPR Report Messageboard (in pratice, a combination of messageboard and quasi-blog). There you will find continuously-updated news re anything QPR (along with QPR nostalgia and nd some articles of more eclectic, broader football interest). And nothing non-football related. All QPR perspectives welcome: Just without the ad-hominems!


Tribal Football - QPR plannning offer for Getafe midfielder Licht
- Getafe face a battle to keep hold of midfielder Lucas Licht. The Argentine has been with Getafe for over three years and is now emerging as a surprise January target for Queens Park Rangers.
- Though they play in the Championship, QPR boast the financial backing to match any major European club and Cadena SER says they're planning a winter market move for Licht." Tribal Football - Wikipedia/Licht Profile

- New Job For Ex-QPR CEO, David Davies

- On This Day Flashback: QPR's First (ever) Win In the First Division...Martin Cranie joins QPR and debuts in Mick Harford's first QPR Win as Acting Manager

- QPR Managing Director, Alejandro Agag Update

- Chelsea Crackdown on Fan Anti-Semitism and Racism

- Football Against Racism Week: October 15-27

BRIATORE'S FATE Determined Today?

The Times/Gary Jacob

"....Briatore’s case is equally complex and could have wider implications for the game and the application of the fit and proper persons test. The Italian is considering contesting the judgment by the FIA, the governing body of world motor sport, that as managing director of the Renault Formula One team, he was responsible for Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashing his car in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The League requested information from the FIA and consulted three barristers for advice, but Mawhinney warned that there were legal obstacles to overcome to prevent Briatore from continuing as QPR chairman.

“We need to have legal clarity if somebody is in difficulties with another sporting body as to exactly what the nature of that difficulty is before we apply our regulation,” Mawhinney said. “So this is complex. We will work hard to come up with policy decisions.

“I would like to come out of the board meeting with settled policies on these issues which would then apply to any current and future cases that will need to be considered.” The Times

The Guardian/Owen Gibson

"....Also on the agenda will be Flavio Briatore's position as a major shareholder in QPR, following the decision of the World Motor Sport Council effectively to ban him from the sport over the Renault "crashgate" affair. Under the league's "fit and proper person" test any director or club owner is forbidden if banned by another governing body.

Mawhinney has consulted senior legal advisors over the extent to which any decisions could be challenged in the courts. "We need to have legal clarity if somebody is in difficulty with a different sporting organisation as to what exactly the nature of that difficulty is before we try to apply our regulations," he said. "I have taken leading counsel's advice, so we will be going into the board meeting with the benefit of that advice."

If an individual fails the fit and proper person test, the club would be given a deadline with which to comply with the rules or face being thrown out of the league.

The ownership of Leeds United will be discussed, too. The ultimate ownership of the club through the offshore Forward Sports Fund vehicle has been cast into doubt by the statement of their chairman, Ken Bates, that he had made an "error" in saying that he and Patrick Murrin were the sole shareholders in the company.

Mawhinney is coming towards the end of his stewardship of the league and sees the proper application of rules that were first introduced in 2004 as part of his legacy. He repeated his call for government support in tracking down the ultimate offshore owners' of clubs but attempted to manage expectations by saying there was only so much the league could do.

"We picked our regulations because we are the small league. We are not as financially blessed as other football organisations," he said. "No matter how much we might aspire, we have to be sensible about what we are able to do." Guardian

INDEPENDENT - Briatore in line of fire as League gets tough

Disgraced F1 boss likely to be thrown out of football in 'fit and proper person' crackdown with Notts County and Leeds also under scrutiny

By Ian Herbert and Glenn Moore

Flavio Briatore is expected to fail the Football League's 'fit and proper person' test

The Football League will today seek a legally watertight way of disqualifying Flavio Briatore, the owner of Queen's Park Rangers, from the board of the club.

Lord Mawhinney, who will chair the meeting which will consider the Briatore case and also decide whether the owners of Notts County and Leeds United meet the League's "fit and proper person" test, knows that the first of these provides the most searching examination of ownership rules to date.

The test bars individuals who are the subject of a ban "from involvement in the administration of a sport by a sports governing body or such other similar forms of disqualification as may operate from time to time." The latter of the two appears to provide Briatore with no get-out, with the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) having refused to recognise any teams or drivers engaging him in "any capacity".

The best course open to Briatore and his lawyers, who have tabled their case in his defence, would appear to be an argument that he should not be banned ahead of the outcome of any appeal into the WMSC's ruling. Mawhinney, the Football League chairman, knows the significance of the case at a time when profound questions are being asked of both the Premier League and Football League "fit and proper person" regimes. "We need to have legal clarity if somebody is in difficulty with a different sporting organisation as to exactly what the nature of that difficulty is before we try to apply our regulation," he said yesterday.

"This is complex and complicated. I have taken legal counsel's advice, we will be going into the meeting with the benefit of that advice. It isn't simple, and it isn't straightforward. But I've been around a bit, I have quite good hearing, I understand what's being said and we will reflect that as a board."

Leading sports lawyer Adam Morallee, whose specialisms include governance, said: "The question at issue will be whether the [WMSC] ban is a permanent ban or one subject to appeal."

The League's decision carries huge significance for QPR. Though Briatore brought Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone and steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal on board at Loftus Road, he is the one seen regularly at the club. A disqualification for the flamboyant Italian could see all three of them seeking a way out and QPR being put up for sale.

It will be a day of major significance for the issue of football club ownership in general. The decision for the League in the Notts County case is whether the club's new owners, the investors in the Qadbak investment fund, registered in the tax-haven of the British Virgin Islands and of which little is yet known, may pass the same test.

The Leeds case relates to chairman Ken Bates' acknowledgement of his mistake in saying he jointly owned the club's holding company, the Forward Sports Fund. In fact, Forward, registered in the tax-haven of the Cayman Islands, has 10,000 shares, whose owners are yet to be ascertained. Mawhinney said of the latter case: "The law of the land allows money to be 'hidden' offshore for tax purposes. Personally, I do not believe that owners' identities should also be hidden from the League, as the representative of fans, if their clubs want to play in our League. But as everyone in the League recognises this tradition will not be easy to change."

The League's decision comes amid questions over the identity of the newest Premier League owner and his financial viability: Ali al-Faraj, who became proprietor of Portsmouth this week. It is understood that the Premier League adjudged him "fit and proper" six weeks ago – shortly before he was beaten to the ownership of the club by Sulaiman al-Fahim, who was also adjudged "fit and proper" though his investment in the club never materialised.

The Premier League is comfortable with the decision on Faraj and consider the absence of published information on him to be a reflection of the private nature of business in Saudi Arabia. Pompey insist that Faraj is the individual to drive the club on. Further inquiries by The Independent in the Middle East yesterday were unable to establish whether he is a source of money, or actually a front man for another investor.

One deal-maker, who has been involved in discussions with the Football League over a prospective move to bring an investor to a major club, said yesterday that neither it nor the Premier League had the resources to submit prospective owners to a due diligence process so as to make the fit and proper person test a rigorous one. "It's a fallacy that it's called a test," he said. "It's a form you fill in and essentially you self-certify. The form doesn't get 'approved' as such but no one ever generally fails. If it transpires that you have a murky past, then they are down on you like a ton of bricks."

Fit and proper: Ownership regulations

The Football League was the first Governing Body in football to introduce a 'Fit and Proper Person Test' in 2004.

It is a breach of League rules to be a director or hold a majority interest in a club if you:

* Are subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of the sport.

* Have an unspent conviction in relation to fraud or dishonesty.

* Are disqualified as a director of a UK registered company.

* Are currently subject to a bankruptcy order.

* Have been a director of any club that has been in administration twice during a five-year period.

Katie Nixon

What next? How the ruling may affect QPR

What decision does the Football League have to make today about QPR's ownership?

Whether to declare that the club's chairman and major shareholder, Flavio Briatore, now fails its 'fit and proper person' test (FAPPT) of ownership because of his antics in Formula 1; and if he does, whether they can force him off the board and to dispose of his stake.

What precedents are there?

None. This is a landmark case in terms of assessing whether and how to force a majority shareholder to relinquish shares and control.

Does the League have the right and legal power to force Briatore out?

By the letter of its FAPPT, if his ban from F1 is upheld (and he is appealing that, which complicates this case), he should no longer be chairman or owner of QPR. The League has leeway to give Briatore a certain time period, yet to be determined, to step down and sell his shares. How they can enforce that is a different, legally complex issue if he does not go quietly.

Would QPR miss him?

He's the minnow of the three main owners in wealth terms. Lakshmi Mittal (who owns 20 per cent), is reportedly worth £18.4bn, Bernie Ecclestone (15 per cent) £1.5bn, and Briatore (34 per cent) a relative pittance at £110m. Arguably a bigger loss than his cash would be the 59-year-old's strategic and management experience in building brands, attracting sponsors and marketing the club in a global environment he knows well.

James Mariner Independent


By Tony Banks
CHAIRMAN of the Football League, Lord Mawhinney, has told Notts County’s new owners that he wants total transparency in who will be running and financing the club.

And as the League’s board meet today to discuss the ownership of County, plus Queens Park Rangers co-owner Flavio Briatore, Mawhinney issued a warning that they will tolerate no more secrecy and obfuscation. Yesterday, Anwar Shafi, head of one of the two families said to be leading the controversial takeover of Notts County, said he had nothing to do with the bid or investment in the QADBAK trust that owns County, to add further to the confusion.

Briatore, banned for life from Formula One after allegations of race-fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, will also have the fit and proper persons ruling applied to him at today’s meeting in London. But Mawhinney hinted it could be a long and complicated process to unseat Briatore.

Mawhinney said: “We have at least a couple of fit and proper person issues to address. I would like to come out of the meeting with settled policies on these issues which would then apply to any current and future cases. We need to have legal clarity if somebody is in difficulties with another sporting body before we apply our regulations. This is complex and complicated.

“On behalf of the board, I have taken legal counsel’s advice so we will be going into the board meeting with the benefit of that advice. It is it not straightforward.”

Leeds United’s situation is also on the agenda, with the ownership of the club unclear at the moment and apparently involving several overseas groups Express

The Sun FLAVIO BRIATORE is set to be kicked out of QPR by the Football League today.

Disgraced F1 cheat Briatore - banned for life by motor racing's governing body - is now expected to be banished from football, too.

The decision will be taken at a landmark board meeting today, when Notts County's controversial takeover will also be discussed.

SunSport's shock investigation into the club's ownership left officials with grave concerns about who actually controls the League Two outfit.

But Briatore's co-ownership of QPR will be the main item on the agenda after his role in F1's crashgate scandal.

The former Renault supremo was banned from the sport for instructing one of his drivers, Nelson Piquet Jnr, to deliberately crash during last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

There were concerns that Briatore would fight the ban, making it difficult for the League to boot him out as well.

But the Italian missed the appeal deadline, leaving Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney free to show him the door.

Notts County are also sweating on whether their takeover by Middle East consortium Munto Finance is ruled fit and proper.

Munto hired ex-England boss Sven Goran Eriksson as director of football and pledged to take the club into the Championship within five years.

But SunSport revealed one of the club's powerbrokers, Russell King, is a former jailbird with links to a company under investigation for fraud.

And the man County suggested was one of their main backers, Anwar Shafi, vehemently denies any involvement - leaving the true identity of the club's owners a mystery.

County's executive chairman Peter Trembling admitted: "The owners are genuine about what they want to do.

"I don't envisage any problems and, if there were, I fear the consequences."
The Sun

- Praise for Borrowdale

- Bernie Ecclestone Q&A including re Briatore

- Football League Chairman Mawhinney Address re Football

- Lakshmi Mittal #1 Rich Man in British Football (Bernie Ecclestone #8)

- FACTS &STATS: QPR Attendance Stats Over the Years

- Being Held Next Week: Antonio Caliendo's Golden Foot Awards

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