We met with Gianni before the home game against Cardiff in December, he talked to us about the clubs finances, rumours, Ian Hollloway's position and his thoughts on the future.
QPRnet.com: How close are we to going into administration?
GP: We are not and it is impossible for us to allow that to happen because administration leads to liquidation and if we decide to do that then the moment it happens we destroy ourselves. As directors, myself, Caliendo, Dunga and Zanotti will be finished, we’ll be disqualified. Zanotti’s company is massive, Dunga is a prestigious name around the world, Antonio has his successful business in Monte Carlo, I haven’t been a bad businessman myself either and we’re not going to lose all that. So as long as we’re involved in QPR there is no way we will go into liquidation or administration, simple as that.
We try to the do the best we can for the club, I don’t want to talk about the past anymore, the past has gone and the future is here now, so from now on I’m only looking forward.
QPRnet.com: So the clubs finances are stable right now then?
GP: Very much stable, in the month we took over we paid the taxman £1,000,000 in VAT and we paid that ourselves. Now we have got some more payments to make which have been spread over two years but as long as we pay our ongoing tax bills and the extra £25,000 a month that we have agreed to repay the last £500,000 owed then there is no problem.
I think what I said about the bill was a bit misunderstood. The tax up to the month of March was OK, we paid it with the money we all invested into the club originally. The problems started because no tax was paid from April, I have a letter that will prove that to you, hold on one minute.
Gianni disappears for ten minutes and returns with the letter regarding the unpaid tax bill which says exactly what he is stating.
We took over at the end of September and we got this letter threatening a winding up order on the club for unpaid tax. There is no way this happened over night, you don’t just send out a winding up order without warning a company before hand so someone at the club must have known about it.
Gianni reads from the letter
“…..as the company has failed to make payment on the amount due for the period of 6thApril to 5th August 2005 ….”
Everything was fine up to March this is what I’m saying, it was all hunky dory but the fact is £1,580,000 wasn’t paid between those dates. Now unless we paid it we would have had a winding up order against us. We would have been forced into administration and been deducted ten points so we had to come up with the cash and we did.
QPRnet.com: If we miss one payment going forward can the winding up order then be enforced?
GP: No, that’s finished now because we’ve met their terms for the bulk of the repayments so threat of the winding up order has gone.
Gianni reads from the letter again
“Queens Park Rangers Football and Athletic Club may be wound up by the court ….. if the amount of money due is not paid”
But it is paid, so there is no problem.
When I came to this club they couldn’t find anyone to invest as much as one pence into the place. I didn’t want to be in the position I am now, that was never my plan but I found myself in this position because we had no choice, unless we had come up with the money we’d be finished. We came up with the money, it’s paid and the club is fine.
QPRnet.com: Is it true that we are behind on our payments to many suppliers?
GP: Like every football club we have to pay the creditors but the only difference now is Antonio and I will insist on every expense being justified before we pay it. Where is the invoice? Why did we spend it? Who made that order? This is the way I’m running the company.
People talk about the payments to agents but this is my money in the club, if we have to pay an agent then it is coming out of my pocket. I try to deal with agents to get the best deal for QPR and for us. Most of the players in the list of agents fees they were talking about were Shittu, Rowlands, Gallen, Furlong etc, players who were already here. Wait till you see the figures next year, it will be much lower. However somebody who has their own agenda issues all this misleading information. I ask you what have I done wrong for this club since I’ve been here? I’ve bought in people that can back me with money otherwise we’d have been finished a long time ago. In total we’ve invested over £6,500,000 between us. How did we do that? I’ll tell you, it’s very simple.
£650,000 was from Moorbound for my investment, £550,000 from the investment from Barnaby and then there was £1,200,000 from Wanlock when they came in. All this money went to pay tax by the way! Then there was £1,200,000 to Bill Power to buy his shares, another £1,000,000 to pay the tax bill and last year in January myself and Antonio put another £250,000 in each because the club was struggling a little. To finish the season we need £1,500,000 more cash flow so that’s another £500,000 each of the three investors will put in.
This is the actual figures and you can add it up, it comes to £6,600,000. That’s the total we would have invested from the time we joined this club to the end of this season. Now you tell me who else out there is going to come up with that kind of money to invest in this club. There’s nobody out there who can, they tried for years and years and couldn’t even get half a million. We’ll invest more and more as well to keep this club moving forward, we will not let this club go.
I tried to renegotiate the ABC loan and then some rubbish goes in the paper saying I was this and I was that, saying I was robbing the club and then they say we are going to go into liquidation. If while this is all going on you go to the bank to borrow ten million pounds that doesn’t do you any favours. I got an email from the bank and they didn’t want to take it any further because of these rumours. Never mind, we’ll carry on and eventually we’ll get rid of the ABC loan.
All I want to know is what have I done at this club that is so dishonest? I played football for Naples when I was thirteen years of age, I kicked a few balls. Sure I never made it to the top but I was registered to play for them but what difference does that make to QPR today? Will that pay the taxman? No, they just want to say I am a liar. People can take me however they want, they can have their own agenda, they can like me or dislike me but what upsets me is that some QPR fans try everything possible to disrupt what we are doing, it’s like they want us to fail and that makes me feel let down.
I know some people have sympathy for the previous people and I understand that but that is done now, lets stick together for the sake of this club and move forward. So are there some bills not paid? Possibly but do you really think one little bill will take us into administration when the taxman didn’t? No I just want to know what every penny is being spent on. So much money in the past has just been wasted and that is all finished now, this club is now run professionally. When I came here there were sixty four staff, totally unnecessary so we made changes.
Next month I’m at the AGM, we will send the letter out soon and it will be held in February. I have to sit down with all the shareholders face to face and tell them what we’ve done and show them the books, the actual books, not the rubbish that people who think they know more than me come up with. The books will show that since I’ve been here the loss will go down from £4.5 million to £2.5 million. Next year it will go down again to £1.5 million and that’ll be with better players earning better wages. Don’t judge me now, wait till you see it because it will all be there in black and white. Everyone is taking a shot at the moment but they are people who have their own agenda. They want us to fail, but if we fail then QPR fail.
I don’t blame Bill for all this by the way, Bill is a good man and we have a good relationship, I don’t think Bill knew himself about the tax bill, nor did Kevin McGrath it was the Chief Executive’s job was to run the company. I’ve never been a Chief Executive but I will run this business in the best way I can and save as much money as possible. I promise you this every deal I do for this club will compare favourably with the past. If an old deal was worth say £60,000 I will guarantee that at least I will double that. I will not do any deal unless we make double or treble what we made in the past.
Antonio and I have been involved in football for thirty five years you won’t find many people better than us to run a football club.
QPRnet.com: Will season tickets be increased again next season and will the child prices be decreased?
GP: I can assure you that I will massively reduce the season tickets for the children, massively. The adults are done unfortunately and they were very cheap in the past which was a mistake so they won’t go down but neither will they go up, in fact no season tickets will go up at all there will only be reductions on the children’s and I promise you that.
QPRnet.com: We heard a lot about moving to a new ground in the future, is that a serious possibility?
GP: Somebody came to me and said if we had a chance of building a new ground over there would you be interested? It would be foolish of me not to look at it. As long it doesn’t cost me any money then come with your plans, show me you have permission from the council and I will put it to fans. If someone had come and said I have an idea to move to Heathrow then I would have said no thanks, not interested we are happy here
Personally I don’t think we’ll ever move, I hope we will be in a position one day where can rebuild one stand at a time, build on what we have and create a lovely football stadium here because this is the place to be. Like I say I don’t think we’ll move but if we do it wont be my decision anyway, any decision like that can only be made by the fans.
QPRnet.com: If other investors came along is there room to include them in the current set up or would someone have to sell their shares to allow them in?
GP: If somebody comes along and they got a lot of money, they want to buy us out and they can do a better job then yeh I’m happy. I would leave the club in a better position than it was before, better team, higher league. The last thing I want is to not feel welcome here.
QPRnet.com: What were your expectations for the first team at the start of this season and what are they now?
GP: I was hoping we would get into the play offs, now it’s a case of lets see what happens. We need to get points and we must stay in this division whatever it takes. I’m confident and the players are confident that they are better than the last two games (Brighton and Coventry). That’s not the type of football I like at all.
QPRnet.com: Do you target Ian Holloway before each season as to a league finish?
GP: At the beginning of the season I targeted him to finish in the play offs and to improve on last season as a minimum. Anything less than that is disappointing, we have to improve, there is no other way, so let’s see what happens.
QPRnet.com: Is getting to the Premier League something that’s really realistic in the short term.
GP: Look at someone like Sheffield United they have had three or four really good cracks at it and this season it looks like they nailed it. That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at doing. We’ve had a lot of bad injuries to be fair to Ian, that’s a fact, if your major players are not playing and you have to play with the medium players then you will be very weak and that showed against Coventry and Brighton. They were the two worst sides I’ve seen in this league and they beat us 1-0. That showed how much we need the first choice players back. Tonight (against Cardiff) will be a good indication for me because if we lose tonight with key players back then I will be worried.
QPRnet.com: Is it true that Marc Bircham and Danny Shittu will be sold in January?
GP: No way Bircham or Shittu will leave, I promise you that. Well not unless we get something silly for them. If somebody bids more than five million for Danny then it is up to the player because that clause is in his contract but these players are very important to the club.
QPRnet.com: Is there any budget left for Ian Holloway to strengthen the squad in January?
GP: We are targeting three or four players for next season and the best thing for Ian right now is to have all the players back from injury like Lomas, Doherty, Nygaard, Bircham, Gallen and Rose, that will be like new signings for him.
QPRnet.com: Without going into specifics is our playing budget reflective of our league position?
GP: We are increasing more on that side but we still have a budget to stick to. Our budget is nothing like Sheffield United for example. This year we have gone a little over the budget and we’re struggling in the league.
QPRnet.com: How important is it to you to develop our own players through the youth team department?
GP: It is the most important thing for me to see our own kids come through. We have about ten new ones we’d like to take on and we need to build for the future. We got Dominic Shimmin for ten thousand pounds and that’s nothing really because potentially he could be one of the best we got. I don’t mind investing in this area, I’d rather spend £200,000 brining in several young players than getting one 33 year old.
There are so many good players you can get and our contacts in the game help. For example Roberto Baggio was a client of Antonio’s so we tell him we’re looking for a tall striker and he recommends Marc Nygaard to us. Unfortunately he’s been injured but he’s 28, no transfer fee and whatever the agents fee is I think he’ll be worth it. Agents are here to stay, there’s no way you can run a decent football club without paying agents and anyone who thinks different doesn’t know football, you find me one player who doesn’t have an agent, they have them from the age of thirteen.
QPRnet.com: What were your thoughts on our Club President calling for Ian Holloway to be sacked recently?
GP: He’s been a supporter of QPR for years and years and years has Harold. He’s a very passionate man, lovely fella and he’s helped the club many times. He has his own ideas and they haven’t changed, he was like this ever since I’ve known him. He’s not on the board and he doesn’t interfere but he’s entitled to his opinion and I’ve no problem with that. I said to Ian that I take stick as well and you have to get on with it.
QPRnet.com: So what about you? You said recently that you loved Ian and wanted him to be the man who builds the clubs future – do you stand by that?
GP: I like Ian as a man, he’s been very close to me over the years but at the end of the day we all know in football you forget about the good times very quickly. There’s a time span for everyone in football for me and for Ian but it won’t be me that ever sacks him it will be the fans, they will decide what’s right.
If it comes to that then it doesn’t matter how much you love somebody, you have to make a decision you don’t want to. At the end of the day, Ian knows his job as a football manager is to be successful and I know my job is to run this football club and make sure the finances are sound and if either of us don’t do that then we have to go. It’s OK being a lovely friendly person but if you are not a success then you can only be a failure.
QPRnet.com: Are you and Ian both aware that the fan base is split over his future?
GP: Of course but that happens at every football club, you can be the most successful manager in the world but the moment things don’t go right you get moved on. Look at the pressure Alex Ferguson is under after everything he has done.
QPRnet.com: How does the club work day to day, do you make all the decisions or does everything have to run past the Monaco consortiums?
GP: I control everything, no one can take a decision without consulting me. Myself and Antonio are here most of the time and together we are running the club the best possible way we can without throwing money around. Simple as that.
QPRnet.com: Many fans feel the Monaco investors are not open enough as regards their intentions towards the club, do you see this as an issue?
GP: It’s very simple we want to be successful, myself, Antonio and Dunga are all football people. If we are successful we will get a lot of pleasure out of it because we would have done it ourselves. I think with our knowledge of football we can do a good job. This club has been in turmoil all the bloody time and that’s gone now, we are in charge and it’s our responsibility to be successful but please lets stop talking about the gang of three or Davies and Blackburn they’ve gone, they’re history, lets look forward. The future is here and now outside this door, every minute that goes by is our future so why waste it talking about the past.
QPRnet.com: Most fans would say the atmosphere around the club hasn’t been as good this year so if we’re looking to the future what can you tell us about how you’re going to change that?
GP: The message is please be patient with us, give us a chance to see where we take this club, see what we do and what progress we make. There is no division in the board, all the arguments are in the past. We’ve invested heavily in the club, we believe in what we’re doing and now we want to take it forward. Back us, stay behind the team and concentrate on the football. The finances are something we have to look after because no one else can. If we do anything wrong I’m open to anyone coming to see me and talk to me about it but talk to me in facts, not rumours and hearsay. If we talk in ifs and buts we can talk forever and I don’t want to waste any time. Like today I was told we can’t play the match because we haven’t paid the groundsman and the grass is knee high, have a look at the pitch it’s lovely! Sometimes I think QPR is like a hairdresser’s shop where everyone gossips about each other! So I just say, please, concentrate on the football and if you really are worried about something then my door is open.