Date:Friday December 17 2010
Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly bought Flavio Briatore's share of Queens Park Rangers and now owns the 'majority' of the club.
Formula 1's 80 year old chief executive has confirmed that he has increased his stake to 62 per cent, at the same time ending the involvement in QPR of Briatore, who has been a controversial figure, particularly with the fans. Briatore is believed to now own just a nominal shareholding.
'I haven't bought the club to see my name in the papers,' Ecclestone is quoted as saying, 'I have bought it to support Neil (Warnock). Neil tells us how to kick the ball and now our aim is the Premier League.' He added rather sensibly 'I am not thinking about competing with Manchester United or Arsenal. It is just something that I enjoy doing and we will just see what happens.'
There is as yet no news as to how this latest situation will affect the positions of Ishan Saksena, Chairman of QPR Holdings, the parent company or of Amit Bhatia, the vice-chairman, who are both very much associated with Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, who owns the majority of the remaining shares in the club.
Chairman of the football club Gianni Paladini was responsible for involving Briatore in the first place and is seen as a Briatore man, but the hope is that in recognising Warnock's role, Ecclestone also sees the need to maintain the stability in the boardroom.
Having just suffered their first defeat in 20 games, the club are still four points clear at the top of the Championship with a game in hand over their rivals. The stability and success on the pitch has masked rumblings and apparent jostling for position off the pitch, with the prospect of Premier League football next season increasing interest in ownership. Force India and Kingfisher brewery owner Vijay Mallya, who has connections with both Briatore and Mittal, was thought to be bidding for both Ecclestone and Briatore's shares as recently as October. It appears his advances were not welcomed, and that Ecclestone`s interest has been somewhat rekindled, although he is still not a regular visitor to matches at Loftus Road.
For the club, at the moment, the relationship between Ecclestone and Mittal and his men remains a key factor in the future prospects. Rumours of a bid for the land where BBC Broadcasting house stands, a few hundred yards from the current stadium, has fuelled talk of expansion and a stadium with a larger capacity than the current 18,000 seats.
For the fans, long used to frequent changes and frustrations, the vital issue of board interference with the manager and the team, at least, seems to have been put to bed, and the future on the pitch continues to look rosy.
Date:Friday December 17 2010
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