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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tony Fernandes Interview re QPR's Future...The Barton Deal and Agents Payments...Barton Captain Appointment...Taarabt Wants a Raise...Nick De Marco

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- FA Defends Secret Drugs Bans on Footballers

- Mansfield Appoint 29-year old CEO

DAILY MAIL - McKay in spotlight over Barton's QPR deal

Football agent Willie McKay is at the centre of more controversy over his role in QPR captain Joey Barton’s free transfer from Newcastle.
The paperwork for the deal shows that McKay, who has had a turbulent relationship with the football authorities, acted for QPR in the negotiations, while Barton represented himself, with the terms signed off by the Rangers financial director Rebecca Caplehorn.
The arrangement has surprised Newcastle, who are understood to have made their concerns known to the FA.

Uncertain role: McKay
McKay was active on Barton’s behalf during the summer saga that ended with the player leaving Tyneside to take up the £60,000-a-week on offer at Loftus Road.
McKay working on behalf of QPR, rather than Barton, in the final negotiations would mean the midfielder would not be liable for any benefit-in-kind tax payment for his considerable agent’s fee. The Inland Revenue are aware this regulatory loophole surrounding dual representation is being exploited.

McKay was one of five men arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in November 2007 as part of the City of London Police football corruption probe.
But 18 months later, he was cleared of any wrongdoing. In December 2008, he was given a suspended ban by the FA for breaching regulations by acting for two different clubs in two consecutive transfers of Portsmouth and Manchester City striker Benjani.
QPR, Newcastle and the FA would not comment. McKay was unavailable Daily Mail

THE SUN/Rob Beasley -Agents coin £2.5m from Joey Barton’s ‘free’ transfer
THE FA have been urged to investigate Joey Barton's 'free' transfer to QPR amid claims up to £2.5million was paid out in fees.

Top agent Willie McKay is alleged to have received more than £1.3m for his role in taking Barton to Loftus Road.

And more mystery surrounds a reported second payment of more than £1.2m which was apparently made to a company brought in to represent Barton.

Although there is nothing wrong with McKay being paid, it is the size of the possible fee that has raised eyebrows.

McKay is Barton's agent and spent the recent transfer window openly trying to find his player a new club after a breakdown in relations with the hierarchy at Newcastle.

But it is believed he was actually paid because he acted for QPR in the deal and NOT Barton — although this is not a breach of the rules.

McKay did not deny our information when we contacted him last night.

However, all he would say was: "There's a lot of people act for Joey, you know. He has a lot of people acting for him."

But only last month McKay appeared to be saying he was the player's agent when he told BBC Radio 5 live: "We've been inundated with interest.

"I've probably got the easiest job of any agent in the transfer window."

Barton, 28, is believed to have negotiated a four-year deal comprising a £1.5m- a-year signing-on fee, £40,000 a week in wages plus a £250,000 end-of-season bonus if QPR stay up.

Rangers boss Neil Warnock was shocked to hear the possible numbers.

He gasped: "No chance, no chance."

But then he admitted he had no idea what had been paid out. He said: "All I know is he (Barton) was on a Bosman and he's a lot cheaper than Scott Parker but I don't know the details. I know nothing about it."

Last night QPR's chief executive Peter Beard vehemently disputed the £2.5m figure, insisting it was way off the mark, but he refused to give any official information.

The club do not believe any rules have been broken.

Beard said: "I am not going to confirm any of the club's private transactions."

Newcastle chairman Derek Llambias was quick to distance his club when we contacted him.

He stressed: "We are more than happy to be audited by the FA."

FA spokesman Scott Field doggedly refused to confirm or deny that the governing body had begun an inquiry into the transfer.

However, our source said: "The FA has been given certain details regarding the deal and on that basis we believe they will have no alternative but to investigate, to ensure all the rules have been fully complied with." The Sun

GOAL.COM/Wayne Vessey - QPR Owner Tony Fernandes: We Will Only Move For David Beckham If It Makes Good Sense To The Club

The tycoon told Goal.com that he will evaluate whether signing the former England captain would suit the interests of the club and emphasised the importance of a new stadium

14-Sep-2011 1:20:00 PM

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

QPR owner Tony Fernandes has admitted he will only attempt to sign David Beckham in January if it is in the wider interests of the club.

The aviation tycoon, who completed his takeover of the west London club in August, has spoken openly of his desire to sign the LA Galaxy star when his contract ends in November.

But in an exclusive interview with Goal.com, Fernandes said that he would "evaluate" any possible deal to ensure that it was financially viable to the club.

When asked whether a move for Beckham could be in the offing, he said: "I don't know. Never say never. There is no single policy at QPR, whether it's David Beckham or Joey Barton or whoever.

“We have to look at each situation and evaluate if it makes good sense to the club.

“We have got to have a long-term plan. The key is not just signings but delivering
a good academy, a good scouting system, a good training facility. There is a lot of work to be done."

Beck for good? | The former England star could return to the Premier League

The ambitious owner said QPR would need to move from Loftus Road - the club’s modest 18,000 capacity stadium – before they could sign the world's marquee footballers.

"You can't have £150,000-a-week players if you have a stadium like this - one day we will have to look at something. It's been less than a month [since the takeover],” he explained.

The Malaysian magnate also hailed the club’s recruitment drive in the final few days of the transfer window which saw Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand, Luke Young, Armand Traore and loan star Jason Puncheon arrive at Loftus Road.

He added: "We have kind of put our mark on the table, to say we will do what it takes."

Should Fernandes sanction an audacious bid to sign Beckham in the winter transfer window they could face competition from Tottenham, whose manager Harry Redknapp says he would "love" to have him in his squad.

A move to Loftus Road could appeal to the former Manchester United man, who is keen to play for Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, but as Goal.com revealed this week, the 36-year-old will not make any decisions on his future until October and has a one-year deal on the table from LA Galaxy. Goal.com

FULL INTERVIEW by Wayne Vesey/Goal.com

Our new signings have made me a bloody happy man - but never say never on David Beckham' - QPR owner Tony Fernandes on his plans for the Premier League newcomers

The charismatic tycoon tells Goal.com about realising his dream, the footballers they tried to sign in the summer and how he plans to overhaul the club's modest infrastructure

14-Sep-2011 12:52:00 PM

By Wayne Veysey | Chief correspondent

It is three hours before Tony Fernandes' first Loftus Road match as the new owner of QPR.

He has just returned from pitchside of this atmospheric old stadium, where he has been mingling with Formula One driver Heikki Kovalainen, one of his many A-list guests for the evening.
Don't Miss

* Fernandes: Never say never over Beckham
* Campbell: I'm delighted Barton is captain

* Warnock buoyed by new signings
* QPR's Barton: We’ll only get better

As monarch of all he now surveys, how is the latest tycoon to buy a Premier League club feeling?

"I'm kind of devoid of emotion I'm so excited, if that makes sense," explained the 47-year-old Malaysian. "I'm also damn bloody nervous because the expectation is tremendous, isn't it? It's a new team and it takes time to gel. But, overall, I'm loving every moment, to be honest."

Fernandes cuts a relaxed figure. During the entertaining goalless draw against Newcastle United later that evening, TV pictures show him laughing and chatting amicably in the directors' box, where he is sat alongside the more publicity-shy Lakshmi Mittal, Britain's richest billionaire.

The former Virgin and Warner music executive, who amassed his fortune from the budget airline AirAsia before moving into F1 with Team Lotus, is pinching himself at entering the madcap Premier League world.


- The right way to run a club
When the benefactor goes it can all collapse. It's better to build a proper infrastructure and legacy

- Missed transfer targets
We were close to signing Sebastien Bassong. I would have loved to have got Scott Parker

- The new signings
If you had said to me 'Tony, at the end of the window we will have these five players' I would say, 'well I would be a bloody happy man'

- Warnock
Others can get ideas but there has to be one captain of the ship. I am very happy with Neil
Speaking in a hospitality box overlooking the halfway line, Fernandes said: "I listened to football when I was a nine-year-old on the BBC World Service - tuning in on short wave radio. It is unreal for me in many ways. Formula One, an airline – but this is it for me, a London club. If there was a comic strip, it would be Roy of the Rovers.

"I enjoy everything I do but it is a little extra. Running an airline I love. I love my people and I love the challenge but owning a football club and running it as a business is a bit more exciting."

As a student Fernandes lived above a kebab shop on London's Uxbridge Road while taking his accountancy degree at the London School of Economics.

"I walked past here everyday. It was great that I had a few minutes before [this interview], it was nice to walk around, very surreal. To suddenly think that I kind of own this is really cool."

Not that Fernandes regards QPR as a trophy. Despite taking over the club little over three weeks ago in a blaze of publicity and overseeing a massive recruitment drive in the final week of the transfer window that saw Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand, Luke Young, Armand Traore and Jason Puncheon (on loan) arrive, the club's new owner said: "We have kind of put our mark on the table, to say we will do what it takes. But also we are not a Man City or a Chelsea or Man United. We are not because I do think businesses need to be run as businesses. When the benefactor then goes, it can all collapse. It has got to be run properly.

"Nothing can guarantee that the owner will not say, 'I have had enough'. Then what happens? It's better to build a proper business and a proper infrastructure. Whoever is chairman, whoever is in charge will then carry on the legacy."

Yet big names are on Fernandes' radar, among them David Beckham, who the club want to sign when his LA Galaxy contract expires in November.

Will English football's most famous export be pitching up next at Loftus Road?

"I don't know. Never say never. There is no policy at QPR, whether it's David Beckham or Joey Barton or Scott Parker or whoever. We have to look at each situation and evaluate if it makes good sense to the club. We have got to have a long-term plan. The key is not just signings but delivering a good academy, a good scouting system, a good training facility. There is a lot of work to be done."

Fernandes recognises that the club are hamstrung by their cosy but proportioned home, which holds just 18,000 spectators, and a training ground in Harlington under the Heathrow flight path which is a world away from the magnificent purpose built headquarters of the likes of Chelsea and United.

"You can't have £150,000-a-week players if you have a stadium like this," he said. "One day we will have to look at something. It's been less than a month [since the takeover].

"Training is very important, it's more important than the stadium. When I took over AirAsia, after only seven planes I built an academy. People were like, 'why are you building an academy when you only have seven planes?'

"I had a vision of having 100 planes. You can have all the metal you want but if you don't have the right people, you can forget about it. So the academy is important. The stadium is a big thing and we have to look at where we are going to be, I would definitely like a big stadium."

Manager Neil Warnock and new chief executive Philip Beard have already been detailed to source a new training base. Fernandes is a man in a hurry.

PROFILE | Tony Fernandes

- Born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on April 30, 1964

- Worked as financial controller for Richard Branson's Virgin Records in the late 1980s

- Bought troubled airline AirAsia in 2001 shortly after 9/11. A year later the company broke even and cleared all its debts

- Launched Team Lotus Formula 1 in 2010

- Is president of the ASEAN Basketball League of South East Asia
"I asked Neil for a paper and he was, like, 'Can we get through the transfer window first?' We have got to work fast. He has to double up his efforts. We can't wait because the world doesn't wait for anybody. We are looking within the west London area. I have left it to the boys.

"We might take a site that we can add to it. I don't know. It's too early in the day. We have got to have a good facility. Neil and Phil will look at what those are. Whether we take a purpose built site, whether we take something we can add to or it's just a piece of land, I don't know yet."

Fernandes has brought the feelgood factor back to the club, something generally absent during the turbulent reign of Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, the former owners whose 66 per cent share of the club he bought for £45 million.

Reflecting on the "very tense, very exciting" final days of the transfer window, which he spent at his Malaysia base (he also has a home in Belgravia "opposite Kevin Pietersen") and principally on the phone to Warnock, Fernandes was satisfied with the club's business even if a few transfers did not materialise.

"We looked at Sebastien Bassong. That came close but at the end of the day there were issues with Spurs getting Gary Cahill and stuff like that so it didn't go through. I still would have loved somehow to have got Scott Parker in here but it wasn't to be. Overall, if you said to me, let alone the fans, 'Tony, at the end of window you will have these five players plus Puncheon', I would have said, 'I would be a bloody happy man if I was able to do that'."

Further reinforcements are expected in the next window.

"We will have to see where we are in January and what our ambitions are. It's hard for me to say that right now. We will have to see how everyone performs and whether we need to strengthen and whether we have enough. We have a good squad, I have to say, looking at what we have got. And we have good back-ups as well. Neil's got a bit of choice."

Fernandes' objective for his first season at the club is clear. "Number one is to keep the club up," he said. "That is the right target to set and the objective I have set Neil. Anything more is a bonus for me. From that we will grow and build something better. As someone who loves sport, you have to have lofty ambitions. Of course we want to do better but let's not get carried away."

Fernandes talks well about allowing his manager to manage and insists he will have no input in team selection. "I don't even know what the team is tonight," he explained. "He would tell me if I asked but it's not for me to ask."

The Rangers owner tells one off-record anecdote of a player at a top-six Premier League club whom he suggested to Warnock they could buy and the idea was strongly rejected by the manager.

"Others can give their ideas but there has to be one captain of the ship," said Fernandes. "I'm very happy with Neil. I haven't got much to compare him with, because I haven't worked with lots of managers. But I have enjoyed him thoroughly. We have a very open relationship.

"I will let him get on and do his job, the same as with Mike Gascoyne at Team Lotus. They are both emotional and highly charged people and very passionate about what they are doing, and have had many run-ins with their previous clubs and owners. I was in the media business for 12 years. I like people with passion and I can deal with emotion, so I will give him my full support."

Upon purchasing Fulham in 1997, Mohamed Al-Fayed declared his vision to make them "the Manchester United of the south", a statement that has had an increasingly hollow ring to it over the years.

Can QPR, a club with a bigger traditional following and profile, ever achieve such status?

"It is feasible but that is a big statement," Fernandes cautioned. "Nothing wrong with ambition but a lot wrong with saying it and not doing it. So let's just see where we get to in the years that come. You can say, 'Tony you did it' or 'Tony you talked rubbish'. I would rather just go out and do it."

As a man of action, you kind of sense he will do just that.

Follow Wayne Veysey on Goal.com

THE GUARDIAN/JAMIES JACKSON - DJ Campbell backs Joey Barton to succeed as QPR captain
• Striker feels new signings will help push QPR up the table
• Barton handed armband on debut against Newcastle

DJ Campbell has welcomed Joey Barton as Queens Park Rangers' new captain, and is confident the controversial midfielder possesses the right character to offer strong leadership during the club's return to the Premier League.

After Barton made his debut in QPR's goalless draw with Newcastle United at Loftus Road on Monday, the striker said: "I didn't know he was going to be captain until before the game, but Joey's Joey – he's a great player and he's been there and done it, the same as the other players that he's [Neil Warnock, the manager] brought in – Shaun Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand and Luke Young."

Asked what impression Barton has so far made, Campbell, who joined in the summer from Blackpool, said: "I'm a person who doesn't judge people until I meet them. And I believe that's what life should be and that's how people should be. He's a great lad, Joey, as the rest of the lads are. He's a good person. A lot of people say bad things about him but, in the time I've known him and spoke to him, he's been superb. The lads took to him straight away and I'm sure he took to the lads straight away."

Adel Taarabt, last year's Championship player of the year, had been captain before Warnock decided to choose Barton over him. Asked whether the Moroccan took the decision well, Campbell said: "Yes. We're all in it together. We all want to stay in this league and hopefully [we will have a] better [chance] with the players that the chairman [Tony Fernandes] and the gaffer have brought in – with Joey and Shaun, Anton and Luke and players like that. I think we've got a great squad now to push on." Guardian

Mirror/Neil McLeman - Barton captaincy call caught Hoops on the hop

QPR players did not know Joey Barton was their new captain until just before his debut against Newcastle.

Hoops manager Neil Warnock said handing the armband to the controversial midfielder was a “just a logical thing”.

And striker DJ Campbell, another of the 12 new Rangers signings, said he the surprise appointment was popular in the dressing room.

“I didn’t know he was going to be captain until before the game, but Joey is Joey - he's a great player and he’s been there and done it, the same as the other players that the manager’s brought in,” said the £1.2million summer capture from Blackpool.

"He’s a great lad and I’m delighted the gaffer’s named him captain. Joey’s Joey, isn’t he? He’s a good person. A lot of people say bad things about him but, in the time I’ve known him and spoken to him, he’s been superb. The lads took to him straight away and I’m sure he took to the lads straight away.”

After Monday night's goalless draw with Newcastle, Campbell claimed Barton had helped bring the best out of the other players - including the man he replaced as skipper, Adel Taarabt.

“Adel was OK with it - we are all in this together,” said the forward, who played after recovering from a viral infection. “And he was brilliant against Newcastle - the best I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here.

“Adel’s got ability, everyone can see that, and with the new players that have come in, myself included, you’ve got to raise your game because it’s the Premier League now; the standard’s gone up a couple of notches.

“It’s great competition for Adel and there’s great competition everywhere now so you’ve got to up your game. Against Newcastle he was brilliant and you can’t ask any more from him if plays like that every week.

“We all want the same things and hopefully you saw that against Newcastle. “Everyone’s buzzing and it’s a great place to be at the moment.

“It’s a great time for the club. This great club has been in the wilderness for 15 years, so I’m delighted it’s back where it is now and we’ve got a chairman like Tony Fernandes. He loves the club as well and he’s willing to spend money, which is great for the fans.”

Barton, who reckons playing for QPR can help him earn an England recall , said he felt glad to be wanted after leaving Newcastle.

“For me, I am just here to showcase what I am all about,” said the 29-year-old.

“Obviously, I have got a manager who worked very hard to bring me to the football club, as well as the chief executive, vice chairman and chairman. Everyone at the club is working off the same page and wants to be successful and that was a massive factor in me joining QPR.

“As a football club, they made me feel really wanted. I’m quite a loyal person and I am hoping to reciprocate that and more. I’ve not just come here for a season. I’ve come here for the long term.

“First and foremost, we have to make sure we stabilise this club in the Premier League - that’s got to be the short-term aim. Hopefully we can achieve that and then go on to bigger and better things.” Mirror

DAILY MAIL/Sami Mokbel - Taarabt asks for pay rise to reflect value at QPR, despite being stripped of captaincy

Queens Park Rangers forward Adel Taarabt wants a new contract to put him in line with the club’s top earners, even though he has just been stripped of the club captaincy.
The Morocco international led the Loftus Road club to Barclays Premier
Queens Park Rangers forward Adel Taarabt wants a new contract to put him in line with the club’s top earners, even though he has just been stripped of the club captaincy.
The Morocco international led the Loftus Road club to Barclays Premier League promotion last season but has been forced to hand the armband to new signing Joey Barton - news revealed by Sportsmail on Monday morning.

Despite the arrival of Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips to QPR, Taarabt remains a key player for Neil Warnock and the former Tottenham man wants an improved pay deal to reflect that. Daily Mail

Ex-QPR Director, Nick (Nico) De Marco Update...

Charles Sale/Daily Mail - Axed Bullard set for £5m Hull City legal battle
Jimmy Bullard's controversial departure from Hull City is to be the subject of a Football League disciplinary commission, with the midfielder looking to recoup most of the near £5million left on his contract that had two years to run.

Lawyers acting for Bullard, who has joined Ipswich on a free transfer, have been given the go-ahead by the FL to appeal over Hull terminating the £48,000-a-week agreement following events on a pre-season tour to Slovenia.

Bullard's questioned behaviour on tour included a serious altercation with goalkeeping coach Joe Corrigan, which affected the former England keeper to the extent he decided to quit the Championship club and is now back scouting for the FA on a temporary basis.

Bullard's advisers believe the multi-million pound case is worth them engaging leading barrister Nick De Marco, a sports law specialist and former QPR director, to represent the player on the three-strong commission, for which a date has yet to be fixed. Daily Mail

TUESDAY'S EVENING STANDARD/Dan Jones - QPR plane taxies towards the runway

13 Sep 2011

There were four pretty young Asian air hostesses, all dressed in red, standing outside the South Africa Road turnstiles at Loftus Road last night. They were posing for photos with punters and - weirdly - policemen. Each of the four wore a smile as big as an Airbus-380.

Inside the ground, at the upstairs bars selling pies and hot-dogs, Queens Park Rangers fans stood around in clusters. Their eyes were fixed on televisions showing the club's in-house station. There was a long announcement playing about another cute piece of business by Tony Fernandes.

He had secured new shirt sponsors for the club, said the TV. For the next two years, Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia will be advertising themselves on QPR's home and away shirts respectively.

Shortly before 8pm, as they prepared the grass inside the stadium, a song by The 5, 6, 7, 8s blared over the loudspeakers. It was one from Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film, Kill Bill Vol. I. As memory serves, it was one of the tunes that plays during The Bride's showdown with O-ren Ishii and the Crazy 88.

All this boiled down to a singular impression. The club from west London are deadly serious about building their fortunes in the East.

First, though, came the north-east. There was a feeling of renewal, or perhaps of rebirth, when Newcastle United visited Loftus Road. Indeed, how could there not have been?

Rangers gave home starting debuts to five new players and brought on a sixth, Jason Puncheon, as a substitute. Armand Traore, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Luke Young and Anton Ferdinand all began the match. And so did one man whose name glowed as though it were daubed in ectoplasm on the team-sheet: Joey Barton.

All the build-up was about Barton. An eight-page interview with him bulked out the match programme. He led his new team on to his new pitch as captain, his Teddy Boy quiff slicked down against the blustering wind, and the adorations of the small but noisy crowd of 16,211 souls rattling in his ears.

Before and after the match, Barton made a pointed effort to show that he did not bear a grudge against his old team-mates, pointedly hugging each of them in turn. During the match, he avoided slapping anyone, throwing a tantrum, or being sent off for acting like a tit.

For most of the night, however, it was not Barton who dominated the game. He was efficient, controlled and energetic, it is true, but for the first hour of the game at least Barton was overshadowed by the truly exciting combination of another new boy, Wright-Phillips, playing off an established Rangers star, Adel Taarabt.

Wright-Phillips in harness with Taarabt looks like a most agreeable double-act. Like Geppetto and Pinocchio, Taarabt pulls the strings and little Wright-Phillips dances jigs. Last night he skipped and dandied quite deliciously around an occasionally bewildered Newcastle defence.

When Wright-Phillips left the field he was rewarded with a standing ovation from many of the home fans, presumably delighted to see him restored to the sort of form he lost so miserably when he was last bought by an arriviste west London club.

Things weren't too shabby for the other new boys, either. Traore looked like he'd recovered psychologically from his last game for Arsenal (the 8-2 drubbing at Old Trafford); Young was uncommonly exuberant, particularly in the first half; Ferdinand gave a sturdy performance at centre-half.

How, then, shall we assess the revolution that Tony Fernandes and his right-hand man Amit Bhatia have begun at QPR?

Long-term they are aiming at nothing less than global domination, from the foothills of Westfield shopping centre to the TV sets of Hong Kong and Singapore.

That's a way off yet. But, for now, QPR can be quietly pleased that they did not concede, made Newcastle look humdrum and gave their fans the sense that, but for a bit more composure in front of goal, they are stepping up to the Premier League's challenges.

What's more, they had Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Pearce and Ant & Dec - on a rare break from playing TV roulette with wife-beaters - in the stands cheering them on.

Periodically throughout the match, the QPR fans in the Loftus Road end of their stadium burst into chants of Tony Fernandes's name. Were I a punning man, I would speculate that they realise the airline magnate is taking them to a new footballing plane. Think yourselves lucky that I am not.

Follow me on Twitter @dgjones Standard

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