Money makes the world go round for QPR

IT is not just the Premiership clubs who are now being backed by big bucks with multi-millionaires taking the plunge to buy Championship clubs. Derek Davis takes at look at QPR, arguably the club with the biggest financial support in the world.

Derek Davis

IT is not just the Premiership clubs who are now being backed by big bucks with multi-millionaires taking the plunge to buy Championship clubs. Derek Davis takes at look at QPR, arguably the club with the biggest financial support in the world.

MONEY, money, money.

Dubbed the richest football club in the world, QPR come to Portman Road on Saturday with their eyes already on a summer spending spree.


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Backed by the immense wealth of Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Lakshi Mittal, QPR are now backed by the sort of wealth that dwarves all Championship clubs including Ipswich Town and its reclusive owner Marcus Evans.

With Evans accounts all offshore it is difficult to estimate his wealth but it is unlikely that he gets anywhere near the combined total of the Rangers trio which is estimated at around £22.5bn

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The trio have paid around £20m, about the same as Evans paid to buy the debt and an 87.5 per cent shareholding for Town, between them so far to take control, cover around £13m of debt, and pump funds into manager Luigi Di Canio's fighting fund with the promise of more to come.

That has meant eight players joining the club since the turn of the year, costing around £5m, along with a couple of loanees. That has seen the London side moving into mid-table safety and only the vaguest of outside chances to challenge for the play-off places.

The big investment could come in the summer although more wheeling and dealing to clear the debt burden could still to come with £10m owed to ABC Corporation with a reported £1m annual interest and a further £2m owed to former director Antonio Caliendo.

Not that there should be any problem paying up and splashing out for new players and paying top whack in wages.

Steel magnate Mittal heads the Sunday Times Rich List with £19,250m at the last count and is believed to be the fifth richest man in the world.

Although he owns 20 per cent of the club he will be a silent partner with his interests looked after by son-in-law Amit Bhatia.

Although he is approaching 77, Ecclestone is as passionate and enthusiastic about his football as he is cars and business.

He made his fortune selling the television rights to Formula One, and will have added to his millions by the recent deal for BBC who secured the broadcasting rights for £440m.

Mittal and Ecclestone are good friends and they set a world record in a private home sale when the Formula One boss sold his Kensington Palace Gardens mansion to the Indian businessman for £70m.

Ecclestone appears to be the keystone in the trio with a close working relationship with Briatore through motor racing.

His wealth, along with Croatian-born former model wife Slavica is estimated at £2.25billion, making him number 20 in the rich list.

Briatore is a colourful character to say the least and not juts due to his involvement with Benetton the clothing company and later the racing team.

His wealth also comes from fashion, holiday resorts and a pharmaceutical company.

Briatore is worth an estimated £100m, so with Mittal and Ecclestone, QPR represent a wealthy challenge to neighbours Chelsea and Fulham, although still have some way to go in terms of getting into the upper echelon of the Premier League.

Added to that, Rangers this week secured a £20m kit sponsorship with Lotto Sport Italia over a five-year period.

The idea is not only to supply kit but to develop QPR branded designer shoes and clothes.

It could be another money-spinner for the club whose owners are not afraid of publicity but do not want to be seen losing pots of money either chasing the dream.

They insist prudence is the watchword but no doubt being in the Premier League will see an instant return and satisfy their craving for celebrity status in the fashionable west end of London where their new 'fans' include Naomi Campbell.

It is all money, money, money but tomorrow at Portman Road it will be 11 v 11 with the team with the biggest desire and quality, taking the spoils.

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