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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

QPR Report Wednesday...Vine's Surgery...Ecclestone and Briatore...Ex-CEO David Davies...Martin Allen...Venables Birthday...Flashback: Jago at QPR

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- Neil Clement (son of Dave Clement) Forced to Retire From Injury

- Next: Plymouth

- QPR supposedly one of clubs interested in Hamilton's James McArthur

- Terry Venables Turns Sixty-Seven: Remembering Venables/QPR

- Gordon Jago at QPR: Thirty-Nine Years Ago, Jago Took Over and QPR's Return to the Top Began

- The Debts and Finances of Manchester United and Manchester City

- Notts County Financial Problems

- Don Rogers Remembered

- (Could-have-been-QPR) Darren Ferguson Set for Preston

- Remembering Teletext

Tommy Williams
"...It went well for me at QPR, but circumstances have forced me back here so I want to do my bit for the club and its fans."I understand there are a few clubs after me, but it might be best for me that I stay here and delay any move until the summer..." Peterbrough Evening Telegraph

- Rowan Vine could be in contention for a First Team return 'by the end of the month,' following recent keyhole surgery in his stomach.
- Vine - who was sidelined earlier this season with a hernia problem - complained of slight discomfort in his stomach area a few weeks ago and on the advice of a Leicester-based specialist, the Club decided to send him for surgery.
- The surgery, which took place last Tuesday, detected some loose scar tissue, but that's now successfully been removed and all things being equal, Vine should be back in training by the end of the month.
- Head Physio, Paul Hunter, told www.qpr.co.uk: "It's was minor surgery and Rowan is already feeling a lot better.
- "He's on the mend and should be back training in the next couple of weeks." QPR

- There are a slew of stories all pretty much reporting the same thing.

Motorsport.com - Briatore 'welcome' to return to F1 - Ecclestone
Flavio Briatore is welcome to return to the F1 paddock after winning his French court action against the FIA's imposition of a lifetime motor racing ban, Bernie Ecclestone has said.

The F1 chief executive, a personal friend and business partner of the 59-year-old Italian, was speaking after Paris' Tribunal de Grande Instance ruled on Tuesday that there had been "irregularities" in the imposition of Briatore and Pat Symonds' crashgate penalties.

"I said at the time that even murderers don't get life sentences these days and the court seems to agree," Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the UK newspaper Express.

"He is welcome to come back to the paddock. He was a great character in F1 but I am not sure if that is what he wants to do now.

"I think he will move on from that. It's good for him but it is not good for the FIA when you read the verdict," Ecclestone added.

In the Sun, the 79-year-old Briton said in relation to Briatore: "He's happy he's won, of course. But I don't think he wants to be back. It's difficult for somebody who's been punished for doing something wrong to get back."

It is believed that while Briatore may not return to running F1 teams for now, he will resume his management of drivers while devoting more time to the London football club Queens Park Rangers.

But the FIA, now run by Jean Todt who last year succeeded Max Mosley, clarified that Briatore is not yet free to return to motor sport.

"The Court's decision is not enforceable until the FIA's appeal options have been exhausted," read a statement. "Until then, the World Motor Sport Council's decision continues to apply."

The Paris body added that the court did not disagree that Briatore and Symonds conspired with Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, but rather only questioned the bans "for procedural reasons".

"The FIA's ability to exclude those who intentionally put others' lives at risk has never before been put into doubt and the FIA is carefully considering its appeal options on this point," the FIA said.

Briatore said he has no intention to immediately come back to F1 anyway.

"My attention is on my family then we'll see," he told Italian television RAI.

Ecclestone expects the saga to continue to develop.

"It's not over by a long way," he said. "Just because a bloody judge has said what he's said doesn't make any difference.

"The court said it was wrong, so the FIA can start all over again and it will go on and on."

Briatore's lawyer Philippe Ouakrat, who ironically represented Mosley during the sex scandal of 2008, predicted it would be "very difficult" for the FIA to win an appeal.

"I think the decision is very well-structured. It is going to be very difficult for the FIA to appeal against it," he told the Guardian, adding that there is "a door open" to even more legal action. Motorsport.com

Guardian/Maurice Hamilton and Owen Gibson
FIA vows to stop Flavio Briatore returning to Formula One• Fury as French court overturns lifetime ban
• Pat Symonds's five-year F1 suspension lifted

Motor sport's governing body tonight vowed to find a way to prevent Flavio Briatore from returning to Formula One, despite the Italian overturning a lifetime ban for his part in the Crashgate scandal in a French court yesterday.

The FIA indicated that it will appeal against the judges' ruling in favour of the former head of Renault's Formula One team. Briatore reacted to his victory by opening the door to a sensational comeback but the FIA later suggested it would attempt to amend its rule book to keep him out and noted he remains banned until its appeal options have been exhausted.

The governing body said it "intends to consider appropriate actions to ensure that no persons who would engage, or who have engaged, in such dangerous activities or acts of intentional cheating will be allowed to participate in Formula One in the future".

Briatore was excluded from participation in all forms of international motorsport for his part in fixing the outcome of the 2008 Singapore grand prix, during which Nelson Piquet Jr was told to crash into a wall in order to improve the chances of his team-mate Fernando Alonso. A French court today found that the FIA did not have the power to impose such a penalty and suggested there was a conflict of interest due to Max Mosley, the then president of the FIA, already being in dispute with Briatore.

"Let me take a little time to enjoy this moment of happiness after this difficult period," Briatore told Autosport.com, refusing to be drawn on when or whether he might return to the sport where he won championships with Benetton and Renault in a career spanning more than two decades. "As concerns my possible return to F1, there is plenty of time to talk about this."

The former Renault team principal, who also owns a majority stake in Queens Park Rangers, expressed "great joy" at the verdict and said it had been a "difficult decision" to take the case to the French civil courts but he had no other choice. "The decision handed down today restores to me [my] dignity," he said.

Briatore could not literally be banned as team principals do not hold licences but the FIA had forbidden all its licence holders from dealing with Briatore last September. Pat Symonds, Renault's former technical chief, also had his five-year ban lifted. Briatore had sought damages of €1m (£890,000) but was awarded €15,000 in compensation as well as Italian fails asking that the sentence be lifted. Symonds was awarded €5,000. "It is almost exactly what we had asked for, this is obviously an exceptional outcome for Mr Briatore," his lawyer Philippe Ouakrat said. Ouakrat claimed that the judgment was "extraordinary" and could have serious implications for the future of the FIA. He said it was not a question of the length of the ban or the fact that it limited Briatore's ability to earn a living but simply "an issue of fair justice".

Ouakrat believed it would be "very difficult" for the FIA to win an appeal. "I think the decision is very well-structured. It is going to be very difficult for the FIA to appeal against it. It's a great feeling to see that everything you say is considered right by the court." He said there remained "a door open" for further legal action.

In its judgment, the court said: "The FIA ... can sanction licence holders, leaders, members of the ASNs [national sporting authorities], but it cannot with respect to third parties take measures equivalent to a sanction. The [FIA] World Council, by forbidding FIA members and licensees to work with Messrs Briatore and Symonds, on the one hand added a negative condition – to not work with them – which is not provided for within the FIA statutes."

The judgment added: "The decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr Mosley having played a leading role in launching the inquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies." Attempts to contact Mosley tonight failed.

The panel of three judges noted that Briatore had been summoned via an email only three days before the FIA hearing, had not been told why he had been charged and that the governing body had not sent him any documents regarding the scandal. Had the ban been upheld, Briatore could have been forced out of Queens Park Rangers under Football League fit and proper person rules, which prevent anyone who has been banned by another sports governing body from owning a club. The verdict will allow Briatore to continue managing the Formula One drivers Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen and, in theory, could led to his return to the pit lane.

Briatore will not return to Renault, the Anglo-French team today announcing his full-time replacement. Eric Boullier, a 36-year-old Frenchman with no F1 experience, is as different from Briatore as it is possible to be. Briatore specialised in the commercial aspects of F1 and knew nothing about the technical side.

Boullier's extensive background in the junior formulae, including GP2 and A1GP, focused on engineering and team management. Boullier's appointment allows Bob Bell, the temporary team principal, to return to his role as full-time technical director at Renault F1. Guardian

- FORMULA ONE cheat Flavio Briatore has had his lifetime ban lifted - plunging the sport into chaos.
The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris ruled the Italian's ban for fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was illegal.
But Briatore's friend and grand prix supremo Bernie Ecclestone reckons Briatore will not attempt a comeback - and warned the Crashgate scandal is not over yet.
Team chief Briatore had ordered Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash to help fellow Renault driver Fernando Alonso win the race.
Ecclestone, a member of the World Council which banned Briatore, said: "It's not over by a long way. Just because a bloody judge has said what he's said doesn't make any difference.
"The court said it was wrong, so the FIA can start all over again and it will go on and on."
Ecclestone, who spoke to Briatore yesterday, added: "He's happy he's won, of course. But I don't think he wants to be back. It's difficult for somebody who's been punished for doing something wrong to get back."

- Briatore, 59, is manager to double world champ Alonso, now at Ferrari, and Red Bull's Mark Webber.
The decision means he is free to continue in his role as co-owner of Championship outfit QPR with Ecclestone.
But ex-F1 star John Watson, 63, blasted: "This decision leaves F1 in a mess. What happens if he gets his own team together somehow? Will the FIA be able to ban him?
"If they had just banned him for five years, that would have been the end of him anyway."
Brazilian Piquet blew the whistle on the scandal after being sacked last July for poor results.
He revealed Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds ordered him to crash, forcing the safety car on, which helped Alonso win as his rivals had to pit.
But billionaire Briatore claimed the World Council hearing was a 'sham' and had been led by then-FIA president Max Mosley, with whom he was in dispute.
Briatore, who was not in court, was awarded 15,000 euros in compensation, having demanded 1m.
The judges' statement said: "The decision was taken while the council was chaired by (Mosley), who had notoriously come into conflict with Mr Briatore.
"Mr Mosley played a key role in the legal process, violating the principle of a separation of the bodies responsible for the investigation and for the judgment."
The FIA's lawyer indicated the governing body might appeal.
Symonds' five-year sentence was also overturned. He was awarded 5,000 euros in compensation.
Briatore said: "I'd like to express my great joy with the decision." The Sun

- Martin Allen Back at QPR as Scout? (To this blogger: Given Allen's youth and managing experience, would a seem a short-term position before he moves on: Either within the QPR organization!; or gets a new Managerial position.)

Ealing Gazette/Yann Tear - Martin Allen returns to Rangers
- MARTIN Allen has joined QPR's scouting network.
- The 44-year-old, who played 136 times for Rangers in the late 80s and managed neighbours Brentford from 2004 to 2006, parted company with latest club Cheltenham Town last month.
- He left under something of a cloud, having been placed on gardening leave prior to his exit following a police investigation into alleged abuse of a nightclub bouncer. The case was dropped.
- Paul Hart says he is glad to have a helping hand in the hunt for fresh talent.
- "We are starting to have a look at the scouting system, but over Christmas, it's been very hard to deal with everything," said the new Rangers boss.
- "The scouting side of things has been difficult and we are just trying to address that now.
- "Martin's free and is going to start having a look around for us on a part-time basis. I know him and know what he does
." Gazette

Ex-QPR CEO David Davies Profiled/Interviewed
Otago Daily Times - Hard school of experience

By Chris Morris and David Loughrey on Wed, 6 Jan 2010

- Few would argue Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium is one of the city's most ambitious - and controversial - civic projects. But what about the man at the centre of it all? Reporters Chris Morris and David Loughrey talk to David Davies about his past and his plans to make the stadium work.

A few years ago, David Davies - the man tasked with making a success of Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium - stood before a High Court judge in London.

He clutched a Bible and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

The then chief executive of English football club Queens Park Rangers explained why the proud old club should take an offer of a 10 million loan - a deal aimed at averting financial ruin.

At the time, mid-way through 2002, the club's finances were in a bad state.

The club was in financial administration, with a court-appointed administrator given one year to run the club while attempting to fix its affairs.

The loan offered was far from ideal - at 10% interest, it would cost 1 million each year and place a heavy burden on the club's shoulders for years to come.

However, the deal was also a last resort - the period of administration was coming to an end and, without it, the 127-year-old QPR faced the prospect of being unable to field a team the following season.

The judge, in robe and wig, approved the loan and Mr Davies left the courtroom for the steps of the court, to be grilled by English media.

Fast-forward to the present day, and Mr Davies (51) already looks at home in the boardroom of the Carisbrook Stadium Trust office in Dunedin.

It is an office he now occupies as the chief executive of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, the company established by the Dunedin City Council to run Forsyth Barr Stadium and other council venues.

His appointment in October was heralded as "critical" by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin, who cited Mr Davies' extensive management experience.

And his CV certainly is impressive - starting with a BA in sports studies, a masters in business administration and stints as a venues manager for the Leicestershire County Council and later Leicester City Council.

In 1993, he shifted to Ogden Entertainment, as a project manager and later managing director, overseeing the completion of the Manchester Arena - the largest indoor venue in Europe, with space for 21,000 people.

In 2000, he joined the QPR football club as chief executive, and from 2004 filled the same role for the London Wasps rugby club.

Most recently, he was managing director of DHP Group in Nottingham, an entertainment company running venues and ticketing, concert promotion and band management operations.

Now, following an international search and the swish of a pen, he has become the DCC's second highest-paid employee, with a salary of up to $250,000 a year.

However, it is his time at QPR that he credits with helping sharpen his skills.

In an interview with the Otago Daily Times, he talked candidly about his career, including his turbulent time with the club, and described his High Court appearance as "incredibly humbling".

He also talked about the challenges ahead, displaying an obvious eagerness to get stuck into them in his adopted city of Dunedin.

Eagerness or not, however, it seems the QPR loan he argued for all those years ago just will not go away.

Mr Davies credits the deal with helping save the club but in 2005, the club's new chairman, Bill Power, described it as "scandalous".

It was a view mirrored by some posting on the club's dedicated internet fan sites as well as some media, and now the claims are swirling again - this time in Dunedin.

An email sent to media and others by Dunedin woman Pat McCarty - a vocal opponent of the stadium and occasional cartoonist - questioned Mr Davies' abilities based on his links to the club's controversial loan.

Given the history, she asked: "Can Mr Davies deliver . . . or have the ratepayers been sold a `pig in a poke'?"Mr Davies, for his part, said he understood why the questions continued to follow him.

"I fully understand there will be people sitting on the sidelines saying `perhaps you shouldn't have done it'.

"You have to be pragmatic about it. You know people are going to ask questions. In reality, I'm very proud of my time there [at QPR]."

He insisted the club had, soon after his arrival as chief executive in 2000, found itself in a situation that left few options.

Within months, the club had been relegated to English football's third tier, the manager and chairman had resigned and sources of revenue - including money from television broadcasting - were drying up, he said.

Left behind was a top-heavy roster of 60 players expecting wages, and losses that in April 2000 reached 570,000 a month.

Entering administration in mid-2001 - a move recommended by Mr Davies - provided some breathing space for the club, he said.

The administrator, Ray Hocking, was appointed by the High Court, and QPR was just one of many clubs needing such services as financial pressures mounted, Mr Davies said.

However, by mid-2002 the club had failed to attract a wealthy new investor, and a bank loan was also out of the question, he said.

"Football at the time was not the flavour of the month on the High Street. Banks up and down the country wanted to foreclose on football clubs. Going to them and saying `can we take a mortgage?' was never going to be an attractive proposition."

With a sink-or-swim deadline approaching, the administrator recommended the 10 million loan to the club's remaining advisers, including Mr Davies, he said.

That was despite the 10% interest rate, which Mr Davies said was above the 7% going rate at the time but reflected "the difficulties of handling football clubs".

It was also without knowing the money came from a convicted criminal - something revealed by English media later.

The loan came from the ABC Corporation, a company registered in the tax haven of Panama.

In 2005, the Independent newspaper revealed the man behind the company's money was former Nissan UK managing director Michael Hunt.

Mr Hunt had been sentenced in 1993 to eight years in prison for his role in Britain's largest tax fraud, the Independent reported.

Mr Davies said he never met Mr Hunt and was unaware he was the source of the club's much-needed cash injection, knowing only the name of the company and its directors.

"We didn't know at the time the characters behind the directors. That came out later on," he said.

He was aware of the terms ABC offered, but insisted while the loan "wasn't great" it remained "the only game in town".

"Had we had other options we would have looked at them . . . [but] nobody would have thanked us for saying `no thank you'."

In 2005, club chairman Bill Power told Independent football journalist David Conn: "It is scandalous that we've been saddled with this debt, from a Panama corporation of all places, at such an outrageous interest rate."

However, others defended Mr Davies' role, including Conn himself, now writing for the Guardian newspaper.

Conn told the ODT by email he did not think Mr Davies was "generally held by QPR fans as responsible" for the club's woes.

"I think they regarded him as a decent and competent professional trying to steer the club out of a horrible financial situation.
"I must say that I have always found him good to deal with, very straight compared to most people in this field, and a man who seemed to be trying to do his best."

Dave Thomas, editor of the A Kick Up The R's QPR fanzine, which regularly interviewed the club's key figures, said he considered Mr Davies a "typical chief executive".

"A crook and a charlatan, by implication? I doubt it very much."

Mr Davies left the club in 2004 to become chief executive of the London Wasps rugby club, but said he left with "a clear conscience" after boardroom disagreements with an incoming wealthy investor.

"Ultimately we saved the club when we were faced with the Football League telling us a deal had to be done," he said.

Reflecting on his time at the club, Mr Davies said it was an "incredibly fast learning curve" but one that would help in his quest to make Forsyth Barr Stadium a success.

He tried to avoid surprises, had developed a hands-on but "human" management style, and looked forward to engaging with critics, he said.

"I think one thing I bring to every job I have had since has been developed out of a fairly hard school." ODT

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