Yan Tear’s article in this week’s local Gazette is titled, ‘Dowie Job Not Tied To Gaining Promotion’ and also covers the announcement on Thursday of a major three-year kit sponsorship deal with Gulf Air – Steve Russell
Flavio Briatore has stressed that elevated expectations of success at Rangers next season do not mean Iain Dowie must get promotion to keep his job. But he has also revealed that he is happy to ‘win ugly’ if it means seeing the club go up. Although the QPR chairman is speaking openly of a desire to play in the Champions League within five years, let alone the Premiership, he insists he will remain patient about the rate of progress. Will Dowie go if Rangers fail to go up ? “Absolutely not !” the Italian said. “It’s a long term project and Iain Dowie is part of that. We want to consolidate the club and we need a little bit of patience from everybody. We are all working together for the benefit of the club and that means everybody, including the coach. It’s not really a dictating situation. We want the club to be successful and we feel we have a good coach, good organisation and good players.”
It will be interesting to see whether the new owners will tolerate a dull path to success given the investment. Apart from clash of egos, the perceived lack of style in Chelsea’s play was apparently what did for Jose Mourinho. But for now at least, Briatore admits he will be happy if Dowie finds a winning formula which is not the consequence of sexy football. “Will I be happy to win 1-0 every week ? Absolutely, yes,” said the chairman. “But we care about everything, every detail, including playing good football and we will be trying to entertain.” Briatore was speaking yesterday (Thursday) at the announcement of a three-year kit sponsorship deal with Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain. The exact terms of the deal have not been disclosed but the amount Rangers pocket is likely to increase should they gain admission to the top flight, as it were.
The tie-in with Gulf Air is another significant staging post in the club’s pursuit of international branding. Using the decidedly un-Shepherds Bush-like setting of Somerset House in ‘The Strand’, Briatore and vice-chairman Amit Bhatia flanked Gulf Air chief executive Bjorn Naf to announce the follow-up to a £20m deal with Italian sports manufacturers Lotto a few months ago. The stage was also book-ended by half a dozen air stewardesses, who deserve the highest praise for keeping fixed smiles intact throughout for the cameras. It could almost have been a Formula One podium and that analogy is appropriate because Briatore first met Naf at the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this year and began hatching his plan to attract Gulf Air cash.
As part of the agreement, Rangers will play friendlies against the Gulf state – though the players may not care much for playing in the 40 degree heat of the Middle East – and the club will be involved in developing grass roots football there. Naf was even speaking of a Bahrain player eventually turning out for Rangers. “Today we are one step closer to achieving our goal of making QPR a global brand and putting Loftus Road on the world football map,” Briatore said.
“We are trying to build the club not just on the sports side but also in marketing and finance. This is a landmark day for us. We have made a move towards making QPR a more international brand and we are very excited for what the future holds,” said Bhatia.
The latest cask influx – which would surely have Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon nodding approvingly down the road at Stamford Bridge – proves that money attracts money. The fabulously wealthy new owners of QPR are so far creating wealth for the club without apparently dipping too much into their own personal fortunes. Not that Rangers fans will mind too much who is bankrolling their dreams. “QPR and the new owners are the talk of the town,” said Naf. “We want to be associated with them because they are highly ambitious, highly professional and they want to build and bring QPR into the Champions League.”