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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

QPR's Purported New Chairman Amit Bhatia: Compilation of Bhatia's Past Comments re QPR...Sousa Brings Mourinho Swagger to Swansea...Hall/Newcastle

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- Best of Luck to Former QPR Chairman Bill Power (BP): A True QPR Mensch

- What it Takes to Go Down: Championship Relegation Points Total for Past Decade and more
...QPR Stats: Last 17 Games and Past Points Totals

- Ex-QPR Youth Liam O'Brien and Dean Parrett Called up by England U-19

- Also: QPR In The Community Trust and India - CHALLENGE SUCCESS FOR R’S IN MUMBAI


[Below a few statement by Amit Bhatia: A Far more extensive (but not exhaustive compilation) can be read: AMIT BHATIA'S PAST STATEMENTS re QPR

Tuesday, April 01, 2008 "The Masterplan" - QPR's Prospects and Plans According to QPR's Mittal Family Rep., Vice Chair, Amit Bhatit
Mail/This is London - We are nothing like Chelsea, says QPR vice-chairman Bhatia as he reveals Rangers' masterplan

Amit Bhatia has outlined the Mittal family?'s masterplan to usher in a new era of success at Queens Park Rangers.
The Rangers vice-chairman, and son-in-law of billionaire owner Lakshmi Mittal, claimed that last week?'s £20million shirt sponsorship deal with Lotto Sport Italia is a signal of the club?'s intent to stop at nothing in their bid to become a Premier League powerhouse.
The key points include:
• No plans to move from Loftus Road ?"for now".
• The club will not "lose control?" over spending because ?"we are nothing like Chelsea?".
• QPR will remain ?"quintessentially English?" and no names or badges will change. • Lakshmi will stay "as a fan rather than an owner?" otherwise "he will not get involved unless it is necessary?". • Missing out on promotion next season ?"would not be a failure?".
Bhatia is the public face of the Mittal family?'s interest in QPR and is keen to allay fears among fans that the London-born Indian businessman will change the identity of the club and move away from their present ground.
Scroll down for more
Rangers boys: Hoops players celebrate a goal in their surge up the Championship table
What a Lotto QPR have got as they cook up a tasty dish
We'll have to leave Loftus Road, says QPR boss De Canio
Figo denies QPR talks
QPR's billionaire owners ready to splash out on Figo
Briatore denies QPR will have £40m summer transfer kitty
"One of the most attractive things about this club is the stadium, so we have no desire to move from here at all,?" he said.
"If the day came where a move was warranted - and I guess that would be when the results were great, we get promoted and we need a 35,000-seat stadium ?- then, yes, maybe we?'d explore it. But we don?'t need it today.
"Shareholders should not determine what a club looks like. QPR have a great history and a great tradition and for us to maintain that is of prime importance.
"Consequently, there are no plans to change the logo, club colours or stadium name.
Scroll down for more
Blueprint for success: vice-chairman Amit Bhatia says QPR will reach the top flight
"There is a need to ensure things are kept fundamentally English. If you look through the roster, there are mostly English players here and we like it that way.?"
Comparisons with Chelsea are inevitable. Mittal?'s estimated £26billion fortune dwarfs that of their more illustrious neighbour?'s owner and should they one day decide to move, the club could outbid Roman Abramovich for potential sites at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, White City or Earls Court.
Mittal, the fourth-richest man in the world according to Forbes magazine, has lavish tendencies ?- Bhatia?'s wedding to Vanisha Mittal in June 2004 was reported to be the most expensive in history at a cost of ?£30m ?- but fans should not expect a similar approach to the club?'s finances.
Scroll down for more
Happy couple: Bhatia with his wife Vanisha, daughter of Lakshmi Mittal
"We are nothing like Chelsea and we will not lose control over spending,?" said Bhatia. ?"The expenses involved with QPR are far smaller. The ?£20m deal will go a long way to making us profitable, as would promotion. ?
"My father-in-law?'s involvement on an emotional level is already known. He is involved firstly as a fan. If and when something warrants his involvement with the media, he will get involved but, for now, he believes the best way to be involved is as a fan and not an owner.?"
With money comes expectation, but the club?'s officials insist the team are not under pressure to deliver immediate results.
Scroll down for more
Home sweet home: QPR's Loftus Road Stadium in west London
"We started off by setting a three-year target for promotion,?" Bhatia added. "If we didn't get promoted in three years, I don?'t think it would be a failure. We would be disappointed, of course, but I am sure we are going to get there. ?
"I don?'t think any of us has got into this to be second best. We have a specific plan and we will do anything it requires to get the club where we want them to be.?"
Workmen are at present relaying South Africa Road leading up to Rangers?' stadium. Given Bhatia?'s confident blueprint for success, fans could be forgiven for thinking they will be paving it with gold. Mail

Interesting Amit Bhatia Interview re QPR - Campden FB- Marc Smith/ No41 Nov/Dec 2008 - The beautiful game

Amit Bhatia and QPR - In Depth Bhatia Interview re Bhatia and QPR, The Mittal Involvement and Relations With Briatore and Eccelstone -
While many wealthy individuals are happy to leave their lifestyle investments at the latest sports car or superyacht, some prefer to pour their money into what is rapidly becoming the ultimate status symbol – buying a sports team.
- From George Steinbrenner's purchase of baseball's New York Yankees to Mukesh Ambani's Mumbai Indians cricket team, the world of sport is awash with billionaires hoping to create an intoxicating but often elusive mixture of profit and sporting success.
- Add in the potential adulation from fans that beats shareholder applause and any industry award hands down, and you can begin to understand why so many are bitten by the bug.

- In particular, English football has become one of the most popular sports for successful businessmen looking to gamble their reputations on. In the last five years, the Glazer family, Roman Abramovich and a partnership between George Gillett Jr and Tom Hicks have purchased Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool football clubs respectively.

- Amit Bhatia (pictured) is the latest businessman to get involved with an English club. As the son-in-law of Lakshmi Mittal, patriarch of the family-owned steel giant ArcelorMittal, Bhatia is heading up his adopted family's 20% investment in Queen's Park Rangers FC.

- The club has a rich history that dates back to 1882 when it was formed after a merger between two London teams: St Judes and Christchurch Rangers. Famed for playing attractive football it is located just down the road from the Mittals' London home.

- Yet QPR is, in many respects, an unusual choice. Currently playing in the second-tier of the English football pyramid, the club has had a chequered recent history with the real threat of bankcruptcy hanging over it and a boardroom battle that ended with the then chairman accusing seven men of forcing him to resign at gunpoint during a game. All seven were later acquitted.

- It was against this background that Formula One empresario Bernie Ecclestone and F1 Renault team owner Flavio Briatore stepped in to save the club which was just days from closure, crippled by debt and a €12 million loan whose interest payment alone were €1.2 a year.

- Briatore's Sarita Capital investment vehicle and Ecclestone spent an initial €16.5 million on buying the club in September 2007, but it wasn't long before they began leaning on a few old friends to get involved.
- "We have known Bernie and Flavio for many years and consider them very close friends," Bhatia told Campden FB, who revealed he first learnt of the duo's acquisition when he saw the news on TV.

- "Soon after I was approached by Flavio who said I should come over to discuss a few things. We sat and talked and then he asked if we would like to be involved in QPR, a club that he said had a great history and great tradition."

- The Mittals had been invited to become financially involved in a number of other English clubs, but Bhatia says he was attracted to QPR for a number of reasons.

- "The club felt like an unpolished diamond that just needed a bit of nurturing and caring. There are a lot of people, everyone from the management to the fans, who I felt wanted good things for QPR and I think it has the potential to be great," says Bhatia.

- Cynics naturally would point out that this is a low-risk investment for a family that, despite the credit crunch, is still worth over €16 billion. The only way is up for this investment and, if it comes off, then Bhatia and co will be hailed as saviours.

- Yet the man himself is keen to demonstrate that the investment is more than just a simple punt on a club down on its luck. "At the end of the day I don't think you do anything in life hoping to lose money but this is not a monetary investment for me or my father-in-law – it is an investment of passion," he said.

- "There is a joy that you get out of being involved in sport that you do not get in business, so this is an investment that came about because of our love for sport."

- The family's investment has certainly had an impact. The club is today worth more than what the Mittals and the F1 moguls paid for it and is currently sat in its highest league position for 12 years. The ultimate aim is promotion to the Premier League – where it would face the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal – within three years and then European football where it aims to compete with giants such as Real Madrid and AC Milan.

- Away from the pitch, the owners have used their contacts to create a new identity by redesigning the club logo, attracting high level sponsors including Gulf Air, Lotto and the Santander Group, and modernising the club's facilities by introducing fine dining courtesy of Cipriani's.

- As vice chairman, Bhatia says his role is to help overall decision-making at the club and there have been a number of important one's he has had to make – not all of which have been popular. He admits a new ticket pricing structure that outraged fans was a mistake and took personal charge, resulting in an open letter on the club's website, of resolving the matter.

- The day we met in his office in London's Mayfair, the board had just sacked its fouth manager in the 13 months since they all bought into the club. A clash of personalities was the conduit for the latest coach's departure and Bhatia shows he has quickly picked up English football-speak.

- "It is part and parcel of the game unfortunately," he said with the air of a man who has been around the game a lot longer than 10 months. "There are tough decisions to be made and we are not too proud to say that we have made decisions that have not always been the best ones – but we always try to do the right thing."

- Bhatia grew up in New Delhi, India where his family is involved in real estate and is independently wealthy. He moved to London aged 15 to attend school before heading to the US where he studied economics and investment management at Cornell University. Jobs at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse in London and New York followed before he married Lakshmi's only daughter, Vanisha Mittal, at a famously lavish ceremony at the Palais de Versailles in France.

- Opportunities arose at both his father's and father-in-law's businesses, but Bhatia says he likes doing things for himself. To prove the point, he set up his own private investment house, Swordfish, that today has its own hedge fund and a private equity business. Both businesses manage assets of several hundred million dollars each.

- Clearly very passionate about finance, he is keen to reveal his love of sport. "My whole life I have been involved in sport – cricket is obviously the number one sport in India so I played it to a quite high level. Then I started to play a bit of tennis and competed at Junior Wimbledon. Now I play golf, a bit of football and a lot of squash. I play anything that I can," he said.

- QPR is not the first time he has combined sport and business – a dream scenario in his own words. Alongside his father-in-law, Bhatia set up the Mittal Champions Trust, a non-profit venture that supports and funds talented Indian sportspersons and potential Olympic medal winners to enable them to access the best specialists in the world. MCT was behind India's first ever individual gold medallist at the Olympics in Beijing and Bhatia hopes to help his home country to achieve a level of success comparable to its size.

- QPR is just his latest venture and although he admits it is taking up increasingly more of his time, given the tone of his voice it is a privilege not a chore.

- In particular, it is the human side of the investment that most appeals to him and says he has a very active role with the players. "I spend quite a lot of time with them. We had a dinner for all the players and their wives plus all the management and their spouses at our house." he said.

- "We want to get to know the players and our families to get to know their families so they realise that we are all here for a common goal which is to win football matches."

- While it appears to be all happy families so far, there is a risk that one of the three investors will want to pull out or that a difference of opinion will lead to a split in the future. This is exactly the situation that has happened at Liverpool where Hicks and Gillett Jr have fallen out.

- Bhatia claims such an evantuality is extremely unlikely at QPR. He describes both Briatore and Ecclestone as close friends and says they even take holidays together. "If anything I think this leads to a much better dynamic because it allows communication to be very open and very forthright on a regular basis," says Bhatia.

- Consequently, he scotches recent rumours that the Mittals would buy out their two partners saying it was a comment taken out of context. "When you truly love something you want to own as much as you can. However, the idea of one of us buying the other out is as far away from the truth as it can be for the simple reason that we are all involved in it because of each others involvement."

- Although the Mittals have a minority stake, Bhatia says they have just as much of a voice as those who own a majority stake. "We are very good friends who have a lot of respect for each other so I think that in the long run we will be able to make much better decisions as a family for the club."

- If passion counted for on the field success then the club is well set for success. "I absolutely adore the club and I am first and foremost a fan," says Bhatia. Only time will tell whether his dream becomes a reality. Camden FB - Additional Amit Bhatia Comments

UPDATED: TEAMTALK Bhatia happy with Rangers progress
- QPR Holdings Ltd vice-chairman Amit Bhatia is pleased with the progress made by the club during his first year at Loftus Road.
- The wealthy businessman is determined to guide Rangers to success, and believes Paulo Sousa's men are set for a bright future if this year is anything to go by.
- He told the club's official website: "I'd say it's been exciting, it's been challenging, but none the less we've had a great time
- "I think that there is a marked improvement in the club, as compared to last season I think we are far more competitive this season, which goes a long way to show we are making strides in the right direction.
- "There is a hell of a lot of work to be done still but as we always said it's a long-term plan and the idea is to build from the ground up, and I think if this is the start of the foundations we are laying, I think we are pleased.
- "It's only 12 months which is a very short time. This is a long-term commitment and a long term project, so I like to think we are on the right path to go ahead and to take the club to new heights." Teamtalk

The Telegraph
The Telegraph January 10, 2008

QPR's Owners - "QPR Tycoons Hesitate on Spending Spree"-

For a club just two hours from going bust, the transformation in the financial fortunes of Queens Park Rangers is one of the most amazing stories seen in English football since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003.

But for those QPR fans hoping that new investor Lakshmi Mittal has joined forces with Formula One tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore to bankroll an Abramovich-style spending spree at Loftus Road, there is likely to be disappointment.

Despite being worth around £19.25 billion, Britain's richest resident has spent only £200,000 on acquiring his 20 per cent stake in the club from flamboyant Team Renault boss Briatore. He has also pledged £1 million to help cover debts and buy new players. To put that figure into context, Mittal spent £30 million on his daughter Vanisha's lavish 2004 wedding in Paris.

All of which begs the question why the Indian steel magnate, an entrepreneur with more than enough money to buy every club in the Premier League and still have change, chose to spend a relatively tiny sum to buy into QPR, a club languishing at the wrong end of the Championship. Although Mittal has access to an executive box at Chelsea and went to the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, he is not a big fan of the game.

A clue to the reason for his interest may be found in the involvement of his son-in-law, Amit Bhatia, himself a wealthy investment banker from a rich Delhi family. Bhatia is to take up a place on the QPR board and is said to be the one with a keen enthusiasm for football.

Bhatia was also the driving force behind the foundation of the Mittal Champions Trust, a £4.5 million funding programme set up to boost India's Olympic team in time for the London 2012 Games.
Vinod Mehta, editor of Indian magazine Outlook, said: "Although he is very rich, Lakshmi Mitall is a very simple man. He is not a man of extravagant taste. He is not star-struck, so buying into this is not to get publicity or to elevate his status. I suspect this is just for the benefit of his son-in-law."

Ecclestone explains Mittal's involvement in more simple terms. "I told him he should come on board and he took my advice," he said last month. The two became close after Ecclestone sold his house in Kensington Palace Gardens to Mittal for £70 million in 2003.

Mittal is understood to be happy to remain a silent investor in the project, leaving Briatore and Ecclestone to drive the push for the Premier League. "It would be wrong to give your readers the impression that Mittal is about to become another Abramovich," said one source.

But even if Mittal decides not to dent his considerable fortune, these are still heady times for long-suffering QPR supporters. Briatore, worth £110 million, and Ecclestone, worth £2.25 billion, have pledged to turn the club into a Premier League force within the next three years.

The pair completed their £14 million takeover in November, spending £690,000 to acquire their 69 per cent majority stake in the club. Ecclestone spent £150,000 on his 15 per cent, while Briatore, through his British Virgin Islands registered company, Sarita Capital, bought 54 per cent for £540,000. He has since sold on 20 per cent of his stake to Mittal.

Another 31 per cent of smaller shareholders turned down the Briatore and Ecclestone offer of 1p a share, choosing to hold on to their stake, perhaps sensing even greater profits in the future. Briatore and Ecclestone have also pledged another £5 million in convertible loan facilities to help buy players and have covered £13 million of debt, taking their total commitment to nearer £20 million.

But so far they have made no attempt to pay off a £10 million loan to the ABC Corporation which carries a punitive £1 million annual interest charge - a massive burden on a team with an annual turnover of £10 million-£15 million a year. Another £2 million is owed to former director and major shareholder Antonio Caliendo who waived £4.5 million of loans he was owed when he sold out to Briatore and Ecclestone.

Although the former football agent Gianni Paladini has been retained as chairman of the football club board for the time being, the business is now being overseen by the QPR Holdings chairman Alejandro Agag. Married to the daughter of Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, he has close links to the F1 business and is one of the most powerful men in his country.

Despite talk of a property plan which would see the new owners sell Loftus Road for redevelopment and move to a new ground - perhaps on a BBC-owned site at White City - he has assured fans they have no immediate plans.

He maintains the strategy is to build the club up slowly ahead of funding a major push for the Premier League next season. They have also vowed to refurbish the existing home and use their F1 experience to increase sponsorship revenues. A new chief executive is expected in the next few weeks.

The owners have wasted no time in matching their words with action in the transfer market, signing five players since the window opened 10 days ago, including the £800,000 capture of Hogan Ephraim from West Ham and the £350,000 signing of Preston's Patrick Agyemang. More signings are said to be imminent.

The question now is whether Mittal, Ecclestone and Briatore are prepared to up their investment to put the club on the same level as their Russian-owned neighbours.

Guardian/Louise Taylor - Paulo Sousa brings a touch of his Mourinho swagger to Swansea
Paulo Sousa has made Swansea the Championship's most stylish side – but they need to find the net more often

Thought for the week Swansea City's Paulo Sousa is the Championship's most glamorous, innovative and interesting manager and, move over Mourinho, the former Portugal midfielder is possibly among the most conceited too. Jose is a good friend of his compatriot but he is not the only 'Special One' in their relationship. Instead Swansea's manager recently declared: "I feel very, very special."

Happily people who know this member of Portugal's 'Golden Generation' say Sousa is anything but a pain and that confidence should not always be mistaken for arrogance. They maintain Sousa is an absolutely charming man whose Swansea side are playing the best football in the division.

He has certainly done plenty right since succeeding Roberto Martínez at a club who look a good bet to reach the playoffs. On Saturday Swansea were unlucky to be held to a draw by Newcastle United thanks to a late headed equaliser from Andy Carroll.

That goal was only the ninth to be conceded by Sousa's side at home all season. "Swansea play a system different to anyone else in this division," Chris Hughton, Newcastle's manager, said. "It gives them a lot of possession; you need to be brave playing against them."

"We were much better than Newcastle in everything and we deserved to win by miles," said Sousa, once again exhibiting his hallmark modesty. "We were tactically and technically perfect."

Not quite, Paulo. The downside to a 4‑2‑3‑1 formation, which gives Swansea wonderful control of midfield, is that they tend to pass the opposition to death while failing to turn possession into goals. Sousa's side may be refreshingly comfortable on the ball – their centre-half Ashley Williams has a lovely delicacy of touch – but they have scored only 27 in their last 30 games and registered 14 in 17 home fixtures.

At best Swansea's games can prove an aesthetic joy; at worst, watching Sousa's team turn football into tactical chess can be strangely reminiscent of a dull, woefully low tempo, Champions League group game. But then Sousa himself is a man of paradoxes. Surprisingly the former Juventus and Internazionale midfielder hails a Swede as his biggest inspiration – Sven-Goran Eriksson, the then Benfica coach who converted him from a more attacking force into that stellar defensive midfielder who would be capped more than 50 times.

"Sven was very important to me, he invested in me, in my position, in my playing, he gave me a lot of motivation," said Sousa who, among others, also played for Marcello Lippi. "What he gave me most of all was to recognise in myself that I can do everything that I want to do. He talked to me, sometimes for hours, one on one."

At 39, Sousa has plenty of time for managerial self-improvement and after a turbulent stint at Queens Park Rangers, is really blossoming in south Wales. "The Championship is the fifth biggest league in the world," said the man coveted by Burnley before Brian Laws eventually replaced Owen Coyle. "After what happened at QPR it might have been easy to go home but it made me even more determined."

Happily, he seems to have found the right chairman in Swansea's Huw Jenkins. "I work for the club but really I work for the players," said Sousa. "If I can develop them, the team will develop too. I invest time in them, just like Sven and also Lippi once invested in me. I'm lucky here that I'm given the chance to do it my way."

So far it is working out very nicely. "Swansea just pass you off the park," admitted the Newcastle striker Leon Best. "Swansea is a tough place to come because they've got good players who keep the ball and work you. They make you tired chasing the ball. We want to win the league but you've got to look at a point at Swansea as a good result."

It is not impossible that Sousa's Swansea could be hosting Newcastle again next season – this time in the Premier League. Swansea

Loan Ranger Fitz taking one game at a time

Jarrow Gazette/Miles Starforth February 2010

IT hasn't taken loan signing Fitz Hall long to win a place in Newcastle United's defence, but he isn't taking his place in the table-topping side for granted.
Hall, on loan from Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season, got the nod to line up at the Liberty Stadium alongside fit-again Fabricio Coloccini on Saturday ahead of fellow new boy Mike Williamson in the centre Hughton's defence.

"I'm getting what I need – I came here to play football at a great club," Hall told the Gazette.

"I've been lucky enough – I kept my place at Swansea. Mike didn't play, but he's been equally as good as I've been.

"I got the nod, but there is good competition for places, and long may it continue."

Hall – who hopes to keep his place for tomorrow night's home game against Coventry City – was relieved to see Andy Carroll salvage a point with an equaliser three minutes from time, taking Newcastle back to the top of the Championship.

"It turned out to be a good point," said Hall. "When you go to a place like Swansea, theyll keep the ball for long periods.

"The game plan's to stay in the game for as long as you can. If you can get something by the end. then great. We went there to win, but the way it turned out we have to be happy with a point in the end."

The Coventry fixture is followed by another home game, with Darren Ferguson's Preston North End at St James's Park on Saturday.

Hall went on: "We've got breathing space in the next two home games. We've got to push on and look to get three points.

"If we can get six points, it'll take us in the direction we want to go in. It's time to make a push now until the end of the season, and we need to start with the home games.

"It's a big boost to be top of the league again. That's where we want to be at the end of the day. We want to look down at everybody else, and try to pull away from them.

"All we can keep doing is looking after ourselves. If we can keep looking down on everybody else, we know we're doing something right.

"We're just concentrating on ourselves. We've gone through a period of three games in quick succession, and we have two more coming up. We'll take time to recuperate, and then move on." Gazette

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