So Town fans think they're in trouble...

IF Ipswich Town fans think they have got problems then they should be thankful they don't support QPR, tomorrow's visitors to Portman Road. The west London club are beset with problems on and off the pitch, as EADT football writer Derek Davis discoversOFF THE PITCHBLOOD on the boardroom carpet is an oft-used expression yet, at Loftus Road, it was alleged the claret that nearly flowed would have been very real.

IF Ipswich Town fans think they have got problems then they should be thankful they don't support QPR, tomorrow's visitors to Portman Road. The west London club are beset with problems on and off the pitch, as EADT football writer Derek Davis discovers

OFF THE PITCH

BLOOD on the boardroom carpet is an oft-used expression yet, at Loftus Road, it was alleged the claret that nearly flowed would have been very real.

Chairman Gianni Paladini claimed a group of men forced him at gunpoint to sign papers giving away the club - a subsequent court hearing dismissed the charges but that does not stop the Italian wearing a bullet-proof vest.

Fans of the London club have never been entirely happy at the financial dealings at their club since former second-hand car salesman Jim Gregory tried to merge with Fulham using his Marlar Group company some 15-20 years ago.

The club moved through various hands, but continued to haemorrhage cash and went into administration in 2001-2002.

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Paladini headed an investment group that bought QPR through a series of offshore companies, including Panamanian businessmen, and he replaced Bill Power as chairman.

Paladini's group goes under the name Wanlock, is fronted by Monaco investors including club owner Antonio Caliender, and many Rangers fans remain suspicious of the owners. At some stage, there was even talk of the Moonies buying the club.

Although three new directors, Jason Kallin, Kevin Steele and Nick De Monco, all from the legal profession, were appointed yesterday there is growing belief that Paladini is ready to sell, with former Wimbledon and Cardiff City chairman Sam Hammam, along with ex-Crystal Palace and Brentford owner Ron Noades, named as prospective buyers.

Whoever came in would have their work cut out to steady a club beset by problems and dwindling gates. Crowds have dropped to below 11,000 for most games, the return of Ian Holloway last weekend with Plymouth lifted the average, which probably says more about the ex-manager's popularity than any extra support for Rangers.

The amount of legal experts at the club is ironic given the problems the club have. They face a potential lawsuit from former media relations' officer Jackie Bass, who is said to be considering claiming wrongful dismissal after she was allegedly banned from club dressing room areas.

Another of manager John Gregory's staff is also suspended, assistant manager Richard Hill, following the 30-man brawl between the QPR reserves and the China Under-23 Olympic team at a training ground, which left a Chinese player with a fractured jaw.

The club and Hill face charges relating to that incident that forced referee Dermot Gallagher to abandon the match.

For Paladini and his board, it is yet another bloody incident to deal with.

ON THE PITCH

LIFE is never dull at QPR and, with Ian Holloway as manager, the London club even flirted with the play-off places after getting back into the Championship.

But, at the first signs of a slump, Holloway was placed on gardening leave a year ago and Gary Waddock was put in charge.

The Hoops looked doomed to go down but managed to squeeze out of trouble and finished one place off the relegation zone. A stray black cat proved a lucky omen in the final few weeks of the season after it was adopted by the stadium staff. The cat was named St Jude after the original name of the club but it looks as if he is not running out of lives, the team is.

John Gregory was brought in to replace Waddock after Rangers showed little signs of improving in the new season, unlike Holloway's new team Plymouth, although they managed to hold them to a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road last Saturday.

A number of players made it clear they wanted away and, in the summer, Danny Shittu went to Premiership Watford for £1.6m to be replaced by Fulham's Zesh Rehman, who had been on loan at Norwich last season.

Gregory went on to shift 10 players, including Matthew Rose, Ian Evatt and Kevin Gallen.

But he has brought in Finnish international Sampsa Tamoska, Danny Cullip from Nottingham Forest and Derby duo Adam Bolder and Lee Camp.

A lot of store was put in Southampton youngster Dexter Blackstock, who was signed last season for £500,000 but he is suspended for tomorrow's game, with Paul Furlong, Ray Jones and Marc Nygaard, all tussling for a starting place against Ipswich.

Although Gregory had his clashes with the boards at Aston Villa and Derby, he appears to have the full backing of Paladini, who is understood to have offered him a two-year deal, irrespective of whether QPR are relegated to League One next season or not.

Gregory is also having to work with two of his coaching staff suspended, assistant manager Richard Hill and goalkeeping coach Tony Roberts.

Rangers moved to third-bottom on Monday after Barnsley won at Stoke and, like Ipswich, have won just three games away from home in 17 attempts, conceding 31 goals.

The Blues beat The Hoops 3-1 in a thrilling live televised match at Loftus Road at the end of August and that prompted a turn around in Town's fortunes.

Rangers have won twice in their past seven games, including a win over Colchester, but have failed to score in four of those games and were walloped five by relegation rivals Southend.

It may not be dull at Loftus Road, but is not a great deal of fun either.

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