by Steve Hoad
GUEST writer ImSitiv takes a look at the reign of Flavio Briatore and Rangers fortunes during that period.
Two years of hurt
Queens Park Rangers ended their 2006-07 campaign in18th with 53 points, the highest they had been since the previous November, when, for a brief spell they had occupied the 13th spot. This was their highest position during the entire season, having, by and large, oscillated in a narrow range between 19th and 21st throughout most of the remainder.
2005-06 had been even less successful, with Rangers, after a bright start (top ten till November), increasingly falling through the ranks to finally sink to 21st and 50 points at the close.
For two seasons they had drifted down the league, finally finding a niche at the foot of the table, barely above the relegation zone.
More new owners
On 1st September, 2007, they announced a recommended offer for the club from Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone.
The offer, of 1p per share, was declined by 31% of the shareholders, leaving FB with 54% of the club at a price of £540,000 and BE with 15% (£150,000). FB subsequently sold a 20% stake in the club to Lakshmi Mittal for £200,000 in December, 2007. The pair are also said to have undertaken to loan £5m to the club for players and assumed £13m of club debt. (Daily Telegraph)
By 1st September, 2007, the date of the announcement, the new season had commenced, and QPR had amassed one point from three games, having drawn 2-2 away to Bristol City in the opening game of the season. A 2-0 defeat at home to Cardiff was followed by a 3-0 defeat by Southampton, also at home. Rangers were 22nd in the league. Their downward drifting trend, established over the previous two seasons, was continuing.
Their position worsened during September and they ended the month with a 5-1 defeat away to WBA. They were bottom of the league, a position they had held for virtually all of October.
Consecutive wins around the turn of the end of the month against Charlton (A) , and Hull (H) propelled Rangers to the giddy heights of 21st in November, but by Boxing Day, they had slumped again to 23rd, having gathered 24 points from 24 games, and once more graced the very foot of the league.
From the announcement on 1st September, through its implementation and the installing of FB at the helm, it is difficult to determine when his influence began to manifest itself.
But, by the end of January, QPR were 19th with 33 points from 29 games. They started March 15th having added a further 8 points from five games during February. And when March closed, they were 14th with 53 points from 41 games. (29 points from 17 games from December compared with the previous 24 points from 24 games)
They finished the season in that 14th position and rounded off the campaign with 58 points, having gained nine places since Boxing Day, a creditable turn around after their repeated downward trends during the previous 30 months. Rangers had avoided relegation, and built a solid foundation from which to move forward.
The 2008/09 season met with mixed fortunes both on the managerial front and with severe blows to the playing staff as 4 of the club`s stars (Martin Rowlands (Captain), Akos Buzsaky (Midfield playmaker), Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang (Strike force)), met with injuries that forced their absence for virtually the whole season. This loss was offset, to some extent, by the use of loan players and short term contracts, made more attractive with the club`s more secure financial standing.
Nevertheless, Rangers managed to finish 11th with 61 points, having rarely fallen below that level at any time during the season. Sadly, despite speculation and false hopes at the outset of the season, they had been unable to mount a serious challenge for promotion. A second season under the new owners had elapsed with Rangers now established as a creditable force in the second tier. Regardless of their depletions through injury, they had consolidated their credentials in the Championship.
It seems unlikely the revival will rest there.
To be continued…
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