Clash of the tycoons at Portman Road

IT WILL be a clash between two of the Championship's richest clubs.Rewind a few years and fans of Ipswich Town and Queens Park Rangers would have been laughing at such a prediction.

Stuart Watson

IT WILL be a clash between two of the Championship's richest clubs.

Rewind a few years and fans of Ipswich Town and Queens Park Rangers would have been laughing at such a prediction.

However, with the dark times of financial administration still fresh in both sets of supporters' minds, Saturday's match at Portman Road will be just that.


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Town may have secured corporate hospitality magnate Marcus Evans' millions last December, but QPR are even more flush with cash.

Having secured a £14million takeover by Formula One tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore last August, the west London club reached a new found level of richness last December when billionaire steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal purchased a 20 per cent stake.

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And yesterday the Hoops became an even greater envy of their Championship rivals when it was announced they had secured a five-year kit sponsorship deal, potentially worth up to £20million, with Italian manufacturer Lotto.

With a solid financial platform now finally behind both clubs, Ipswich and QPR will be hoping they can make a return to their halcyon days of the 1970s.

During that time Ipswich built a side including the likes of legends Kevin Beattie, Mick Mills and John Wark which would go on to win the FA Cup and UEFA Cup, while QPR, Division One runners-up in 1975/76, produced an entertaining brand of football with the likes of Terry Venables, Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles in their side.

However, such history, coupled with the well-publicised investments at both clubs, brings with it new levels of expectation.

The pressure to reach the globally recognised Premier League is on for both Jim Magilton and QPR boss Luigi Di Canio and fans will be expecting to see a significant investment in players over this coming summer. But, following yesterday's sponsorship announ-cement, Briatore has tempered such expectations for his club.

He said: “It's between us and our sporting director the players that we are thinking of. Otherwise when I try to buy players the price becomes ten times bigger.

“You only have to look at what happened with Chelsea. We are working to ensure that if we go up we will stay up and not come straight back down.

“We will not throw money away. Even though we are wealthy there is no blood to suck.”

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