QPR Billionaires Will Not Jump Through Hoops For Agents To Reap Quick Fix

The following article appeared in ‘The Times’ and was written by Kaveh Solhekol – Steve Russell

Flavio Briatore did not become a billionaire by throwing his money away and the co-owner of Queen’s Park Rangers has warned agents that he will not be taken for a ride as he tries to transform the fortunes of the Coca-Cola Championship club. Speaking at the launch of QPR’s new ¬£20 million, five-year kit deal with Lotto, the Italian manufacturer, Briatore, who is also the Managing Director of the Renault Formula One team, dismissed rumours that the West London side wanted to sign superstar players such as Luis Figo, the Inter Milan winger and former Portugal captain. “Figo is fantasy,” Briatore said. “There are lots of rumours in English football – it is even worse than Formula One.”

Briatore bought QPR last November with Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal, two of the richest men in the UK and the billionaires want to reach the promised land of Barclays Premier League without lining the pockets of agents. “Everybody thinks that new people have come in and they can suck our blood, but we have no blood,” Briatore said. “There is nothing to suck here. There is no blood in my body. Just because the shareholders are wealthy, it does not mean that the club is wealthy. QPR were in the relegation zone when Briatore and Co arrived at Loftus Road, but they have climbed the table steadily since the appointment of Luigi De Canio and the Italian first-team coach will be given about ¬£10m to spend on new players in the summer. “We have a wish list of who we want, but we won’t be discussing it. If I tell you who we want to buy, the price will become ten times bigger,” Briatore said. “We don’t need fantasy players, we need players who will work hard and players who share the same motivations as the shareholders of the club.”

Despite being a friend of Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea, Briatore will not be following the Russian’s lead in the transfer market – prudence is the watchword at Shepherd’s Bush. “It is completely wrong to compare QPR with Chelsea,” Briatore said. “Chelsea are Chelsea and QPR are QPR. We will not be throwing our money away.” Briatore wants his club to be playing in the Champions League in five years and to do so the Italian has accepted that the club will need to move away from their home in West London. Several sites in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are being considered. “At the moment we are facing a problem with the stadium, but we have to change things little by little,” Briatore said. “If you want to build a tower, you have to build it on strong foundations. You cannot build a tower on sand.”
The future of QPR appears to be a lot brighter than Briatore’s Formula One team. Renault have been off the pace in this season’s opening two Grands Prix and Fernando Alonso, the former world champion from Spain, said yesterday that he may leave the team and join Ferrari next season. “Sport is not easy, it is very complicated,” Briatore said. “It is about the people you put together, it is about luck. You need a lot of ingredients to be successful. We will try to do our best.”

Kaveh Solhekol