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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

QPR Report Tuesday: Warnock's Miracles on a Shoestring...The Week Before the Decision...Football League Chairman on FA and QPR...Loftus Road Develops

- Bushman at "QPR's 1967/68 Promotion Season"

- Throughout the day, updates, comments and perspectives re QPR and football in general are posted and discussed on the QPR Report Messageboard...Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER

- One Month from Today: The 2011/12 -Premiership Fixtures Released!

- Today's QPR Birthdays: Paddy Kenny & Damiano Tommasi,

- QPR and The Championship: Major Stats for 2010/11

- Ex-QPR Mickey Walsh Reminisces (not re QPR)

-- Ex-QPR Manager Paulo Sousa Back in Football Management

Evening Standard/Julian Bennets
Neil Warnock has worked miracles on a shoestring

Fourteen months ago, Queens Park Rangers stood out as a shining example of what not to do when the fabulously wealthy purchase a football club.

Flavio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal, whose combined wealth exceeds £20billion, had seen six permanent and four caretaker managers come and go and made a staggering 93 transfers since they purchased the west London side in August 2007.

The reward for such largesse was, at that point, a bitter relegation battle in the Championship, a division they had not expected to be in for very long.

Ultimately, it took a man forged in Sheffield to show a trio who are more used to being in Monaco than Millwall how to succeed in English football.

Neil Warnock has transformed expectations at Loftus Road far quicker than anyone, including the 62-year-old, could have expected.

Parachuted in after growing frustrated with administration at Crystal Palace, Warnock has been given free reign at Loftus Road, with promotion to the Premier League as champions clear evidence that the football side of Rangers was better off left to the professionals.

What is more, he has done it without spending anywhere near the amount of money anticipated of a club whose wealth can only be dreamed of by all in English football bar Chelsea and Manchester City.

Yet for 10 days Warnock's reward was growing speculation over his future - a situation which has at last been put to bed as the club throw their weight behind the man who has wrought such a transformation.

No wonder, then, that the manager was in high spirits when he spoke to Standard Sport at a training ground that is gearing up for life in the Premier League.

"This has been the most rewarding season of my career by an absolute mile," said Warnock, who has brought together a team consisting largely of journeymen players and made them into the Championship's dominant side. "When I came here I was the fifth manager of that year [including caretakers]. But we have done it all in 14 months, which is remarkable.

"And we haven't spent a lot of money, we have done it in the right way.

"It has been phenomenal and everyone has come together as a result. I think it has been my hardest job, because so many ingredients have gone into the recipe. I don't think I could have done it four or five years ago.

"But I knew what we had in the dressing room and we had some quality players, too. To sign Adel [Taarabt, Warnock's captain] last summer was important, I thought Paddy Kenny was a super buy at £750,000 and Alejandro Faurlin will be one of the best midfielders in England next season. To see it all come to fruition is special."

Indeed it has, as Rangers won the Championship title by four points from Norwich, although they faced an anxious wait for promotion to be confirmed as the Football Association investigated alleged irregularities in the deal that brought Argentine Faurlin to the club.

With that hurdle cleared, the focus is now on the future. Rangers appear from the outside to be capable of almost anything, with Manchester City, who have spent around £350million in three seasons, surely the likely model.

Warnock disagrees. Pointing out that Norwich spent more than QPR did last summer, he instead warns of a more frugal summer than might otherwise be anticipated.

"What we have here is perceived money," he added, bristling at the suggestion that his club will now dine at the same table as City and Chelsea.

"I don't think anyone wants to splash out fortunes. I think the Premier League will be a great League to be in, and I think the owners will really enjoy it, but they will want me to be as thrifty as I have been in the Championship, getting value for money and entertainment as best that we can without spending millions.

"I can't see them throwing money around with 18,000 crowds. I don't think they want to be self-sufficient, as that is difficult, but they don't want to be throwing money around stupidly.

"I see we have been linked with Joe Cole but I doubt we could afford a quarter of his wages.

"If you gave me fourth from bottom next season, then I would accept that now. The more years you have in the Premier League, the more chance you have of establishing and stabilising, such as Stoke or Bolton. I think QPR could become one of those clubs but you have to stay in the Premier League to do that. That can be a goal for us but we are nowhere near good enough to be top half of the Premier League at the moment.

"And Stoke have improved every year if you look at their signings. They have spent a lot of money on some of them, and have increased the quality of their players year on year, and that is the art of it.

"I thought we could do that when I was at Sheffield United but we only spent around £2m in the Premier League, whereas here we need to invest a bit more than that."

It is an interesting take on the world opened up by Rangers' considerable riches but is in keeping with Warnock's tactics to date.

He describes himself as "the head of a group at QPR, trying to guide them [the owners] in the right direction". The main question is which direction they want to take.

Since they arrived, they have taken more wrong turns than right.

Warnock was certainly the right one but do they take the frugal approach from here? They have backed their manager and now is the time for him to guide them." Standard

From the Football League Paper

- "...NEIL WARNOCK has revealed that the FA were urged to drop their crumbling case against QPR a fortnight ago.
- But high ranking FA officials ignored legal advise and demanded a formal hearing be held.
- Rangers were charged with seven breaches of League rules in September relating to the transfer of midfielder Alejandro Faurlin
from Instituto in 2009.
- However the hearing was delayed until May 9th , leaving the Championship winners in agonising limbo amid rumours of a 15 point deduction.
- In the end Rangers were found guilty of two smaller charges
and fined £800,000 with the timing of the verdict 45 minutes
before kick off on the final day of the season -widely criticised.
- The two sides used the same Legal team and they ALMOST agreed a deal the week before said Warnock.
- But someone at the FA pushed for the hearing to go ahead
- It was obvious there was never a case to answer !
- When my barrister explained the charges he said, Neil there is seven charges but it is clear theres only two that we have breached regulations.
- Even then it was only on Technicalitieslike the registration of the Agent .
Thats not a points deduction thats just a mistake...." (Typed out by Harlow/QPR Report from Football League Paper]

Evening Standard Mihir Bose
Glory days stop FA Cup getting new lease of life, says Football League chairman 17 May 2011

The business of football may be very tricky - at the Fifa level even corrupt - but chairman of the Football League, Greg Clarke, is confident his style of management can deliver the goods.

Clarke has just completed a year at the top of the world's oldest football league when I tell him of comments from Barry Hearn. "These are difficult times," said Leyton Orient's owner, who fears his club are threatened by extinction if West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium. "The game needs strong leadership and Greg Clarke is not providing that."

Clarke, the former chief executive of Cable and Wireless, smiles and says: "There are some people who would much rather I jumped up and down and made a big fuss in public. I haven't run public companies turning over tens of billions by being a pushover."

But surely the Football Association treated the League as a pushover, leaving it almost to injury time on the last day of the season before deciding that champions Queens Park Rangers would not be deducted points. Would it not have helped if Clarke had done a bit of jumping up and down outside the FA headquarters to speed up the decision over the alleged third-party ownership of midfielder Alejandro Faurlin?

Clarke headed for Loftus Road nine days ago not knowing whether he would present the trophy to QPR or act as a counsellor to the club. "I went to QPR extremely worried that the FA decision could throw my whole play-offs into chaos. Gianni Paladini, the chairman there, was absolutely frantic trying to figure out what was going to happen. We owe it to decent human beings to offer them swift justice. Did I like the process? No."

But he refuses to blame David Bernstein for the nine months the inquiry took, given that he was only appointed FA chairman in February.

Clarke says: "It's pretty hard to have a go at him when he is trying to make the place better. I've made my point to the FA privately. I prefer to work behind the scenes."Not surprising, then, that when we turn to allegations of corruption in FIFA which former FA and England 2018 bid chairman Lord Triesman made at a parliamentary inquiry last week, his first reaction is guarded.

"FIFA are not as transparent as they should be," he says. "I'm not going to say whether they are corrupt or not because I don't have the data to back up my assertion."

His greater concern is that England's bid for the 2018 World Cup was flawed, "It was shambolic and we mishandled it colossally. We made some fundamental mistakes."

Clarke, who met FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Downing Street and travelled to Zurich for the decision, believes there are lessons to learn from the episode. "Most of England got over not having an Empire a long time ago, our football hasn't quite got over that," he says. "When I talk to people in international football they say, 'You guys still think you own the game'. We've got to become more respectful.

"I regret we pushed our Prime Minister and our future King into that situation. Given our chances of winning, I'm not sure we should've exposed them. They're too important for that."

For Clarke, the style is the man. He has been a lifelong Leicester City fan and feels such a bond with the game he claims his chairmanship is "more of a labour of love than a job".

He is well paid for his love, £150,000-a year for a three-day week, but says: "I came from the corporate world and used to earn a lot more."

And the former chairman of Leicester City argues he has no problems identifying with the game's grass roots.

"I'm a simple lad from the Midlands who grew up on the council estate. I know how tough life can be: not a lot of jobs and not a lot of opportunities. The high spot of life is the club game at the weekend, sometimes standing on a terrace in the rain, and drinking in the local pub. One of the reasons I took this job was I want to keep Football League clubs alive and in their communities."

He believes the League Cup is in tune with the supporters while the FA Cup struggles.

"The problem with the FA Cup is conceptual," the 54-year-old says. "We all had this Utopian vision when we were growing up in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies.

"The FA Cup Final was the only live game on television, the sun always shone, the streets were empty, everybody was in front of the TV. Nowadays, when there's live football all the time, the FA Cup isn't as special.

"The League Cup is measured against a more practical benchmark, interesting football, good teams playing, and it doesn't have to live up to some old memories. The FA Cup is always being reinvented as being the best thing in football, which is what it was, and that's very difficult."

Yet, for all his talk, the League's annual conference next month will be at the Coral Beach Hotel, near Paphos in Cyprus. Last year it was Malta. So why not, say, Brighton or Torquay?

"It's too expensive in this country," Clarke says. "You can't get any sponsorship. We got sponsorship from the Cyprus Tourist Authority, deals on hotels, deals on flights, cash payments from accountants and lawyers who sponsor our conference."

Money more than passion has also been the dominant theme of Clarke's first year at the helm. "Our debt is approaching £500million for all the Football League clubs. It could easily reach £1 billion in the next three or four years. That is not sustainable."

The situation will not be helped by the fact the new television deal, which Clarke negotiated last month and starts with the 2012-2013 season, will see clubs receive less money than now.

"The three-year deal with Sky, worth £195million, is a 26 per cent drop on the existing contract," he concedes. "The BBC did not bid. They're cutting back on sports' rights."

Things could get worse if the Premier League succeed in paying Football League clubs less for the future Gareth Bales and Theo Walcotts. Both were developed by Southampton before moving to Tottenham and Arsenal repsectively. In Hearn's words, the proposed changes mean: "The Premier League is trying to nick our best young players and pay less money."

"Yes," agrees Clarke. "I'm sure they would if they could. They are proposing moving to the FIFA International Rules which are meant for players moving between clubs in the third world and developing nations. That is an inappropriate, unacceptable model for movements between clubs in the UK, in England specifically."

West Ham's relegation has given Clarke another headache, given Orient's opposition to the Hammers' move to Stratford. Clarke said: "He [Hearn] has marked our cards and is looking to us to act in an appropriate fashion." In other words, stop the move.

This will certainly test Clarke's resolve that clubs should never lose their links with the local community. London Evening Standard

Posted on: Tue 17 May 2011

The R's preparations for the Premier League are well underway - both on and off the pitch.

QPR Assistant Manager Mick Jones revealed yesterday (Monday) that Neil Warnock is already working round the clock in a bid to add fresh faces to his squad for next season, and the same can be said for the building works at Loftus Road.

Work has already begun on extending the Ellerslie Road gantry to bring it in line with Premier League guidelines.

With the eyes of the world transfixed on the English top-flight every weekend, vast changes are required to accommodate the numerous broadcasters from all over the globe.

Thirty positions are the minimal requirement on the gantry, so work is in progress to triple the size of the current area.

The Club expects the gantry work to be completed within the next eight weeks. QPR

Guardian Blog/Michael Hann
Why football makes grown men cry

QPR's promotion brought tears of joy and for other reasons too
The glory of sport is that, even in the moments of greatest triumph, it is filled with sadness. There is the pain of seeing another's success – there can't be too many Liverpool fans feeling admiration for a job well done by Sir Alex Ferguson this week. There's the melancholy of the final bow – the farewell to Brian Clough at the City Ground in 1993 outlasting Forest's relegation that season in the memory. And there's personal sadness, for sport is so bound up in its followers' lives and identities that matches and memories become entwined.

I cried a little bit after Queens Park Rangers were confirmed as League champions. Lots of people were crying, naturally, for lots of different reasons. My eyes pricked for missing my father, who died 19 years ago, and who wasn't even a QPR supporter.

My first game at Loftus Road was in spring 1978. QPR lost 5-1 to Everton, with Bob Latchford scoring four (it was the season he scored 30, and the Daily Express gave him a £10,000 prize for the feat). Neither Dad nor I supported QPR that day: I cheered for Everton, because my family came from the north and routinely backed the more northerly team in my early games.

We lived out near Slough and would travel in to London several times a season – to Loftus Road most often, but also to Highbury, Stamford Bridge, Upton Park, Selhurst Park and White Hart Lane. This last was dad's favourite destination. Like many who remembered Bill Nicolson's double-winning side, he had a soft spot for Spurs, and he adored watching Glenn Hoddle, Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa. "All they do is run around in circles," he said. "But they do it beautifully."

These past 18 months or so, I've been taking my son to Loftus Road. I was a season-ticket holder there through the 90s, finally giving up my seat when Rangers were relegated to the third tier in 2001. We'd had our first child, I was working Saturday mornings, and I realised I hadn't actually enjoyed a game for several years: I couldn't justify the time or expense anymore. But when, at six, my son realised football was a passport to playground popularity, I decided to renew my acquaintance with QPR.

Last season was a disaster, of course. This season's been quite the opposite. But the more it progressed, the more happiness spread around W12, the more I thought about Dad. I wished he were still with us, that I could have bought him a season ticket to see his grandson learning about supporting a team. I wish, given his feelings about Hoddle, Ardiles and Villa, that he could have seen Adel Taarabt, who'd have made him guffaw with his outrageousness. I wish we could have chewed over the game afterwards. I wish he could have seen my son walking though London Bridge station after the 2-1 win at Selhurst Park in the autumn, arms aloft, alone in singing that Rangers are by far the finest team the world has ever seen.

I remembered the past: seeing France play England at Wembley in the early 90s, looking forward to phoning Dad afterwards to see what he thought of Jean-Pierre Papin, then remembering it was a phone call I could no longer make; the pair of us on holiday in 1983 during a summer when my mother and sister were both tied up with education, discussing whether Bryan Robson was a world-class player (dad was a quiet man: that conversation and one about the role of anti-heroes in Woody Allen films are just about the only conversations, as opposed to exchanges of words, that I can remember us having).

I'm sure there were many others with similar feelings in Shepherd's Bush last week – people from longstanding QPR families whose loved ones hadn't lived to see the team return to the top flight, doubtless. And that's the wonder of football, of all sport: that it's not a substitute for life, it's part of life. It is tied up inextricably with the truest parts of us all. Guardian Blog

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