The following article from Gary Jacob and Kevin Eason appeared in ‘The Times’ today:-
Flavio Briatore is in advanced talks about taking control of Queens Park Rangers. The Renault team principal is believed to be considering a deal worth about ¬£25m and there were rumours last night that Bernie Ecclestone, the ringmaster of Formula One, could join him. Briatore is a flamboyant businessman who is not known for a love of football, although his shrewd brain has given him a unique place in Formula One. He helped to mastermind the transfer of a little-known Michael Schumacher and spotted Fernando Alonso, the world champion.
Briatore is the latest individual – including a consortium involving Ronny Rosenthal, the former Liverpool forward – to be entertained by the Coca-Cola Championship Club in an attempt to ensure that they do not fall into administration. Briatore has promised John Gregory, the QPR Manager, about ¬£10m to spend on players in January and he is willing to repay the ¬£10m that is owed to the ABC Corporation, a loan that helped the Club to exit administration five years ago. More than ¬£7m is still owed to Club Directors and the HM Revenue and Customs.
Born in Italy, Briatore ran Benetton’s operations in the United States, turning five stores into 800 branches. When Benetton sent him to Formula One to transform a moribund team, he recruited the best, including Ross Brawn who later became the Technical Director of Ferrari and snatched a young driver from Jordan. Schumacher won two world titles at Benetton and a further five with Ferrari.
When Renault bought the Benetton team, Briatore, who had briefly left Formula One, returned and spotted another brilliant talent, Alonso, who has won two world titles. Away from the track, Briatore, 57, has an apartment in London and lives a life reflected in the choice of title for his range of fashion and nightclub businesses, called simply, ‘Billionaire’