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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
QPR co-owner Flavio Briatore facing uncertain future

Soccernet staff

Queens Park Rangers co-owner Flavio Briatore's position at the club has come under threat after the Italian was indefinitely banned from Formula One on Monday.

The former Renault team chief was the subject of disciplinary action for instructing Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash and now appears to be in violation of the Football League's "fit and proper person test" governing who can run a club.

League rules say that the owner, prospective owner or director of a club should not be "subject to a ban from a sports governing body relating to the administration of their sport" and Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney has written to the FIA World Motor Sport Council to request further details of its decision.

Briatore is co-owner of QPR along with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and is also chairman of the holding company that owns the club and a director on the board.

Hugh Robertson, the Conservative Shadow Sports Minister, called for the Football League to remove Briatore, telling the Times: ''Of course Mr Briatore is not fit to run a football club. It is difficult to see how anyone convicted of one of the worst cases of cheating on record in one sport could possibly be considered fit and proper in another."

However, Briatore has hope, as he was no longer with Renault when the governing body held its hearing. Carlos Garcia, the head of Spain's motor sport federation and an FIA World Council member, described the ban as "excessive" and "disproportionate", meaning he could find a loophole if he chooses to undertake legal action.

"There is a question mark over whether he's actually been banned. What the FIA have done is threaten not to sanction anyone engaging Briatore or allow them to take part in any FIA-organised championships or events," Jonathan Brogden, a partner in the City sports law firm Davies Arnold Cooper, told the Guardian.

"So Briatore may be able to claim he, personally, has not been banned. As regards the fit and proper person test, one of the things you have to declare is that you've not been banned by a sports governing body from involvement in the administration of that sport.

"The question arises as to whether Briatore has actually been banned from the administration of Formula One. All we've got to go on at the moment is the press release and that strongly suggests that Briatore himself is not banned from being involved. It's a de facto ban but it's questionable as to whether it's a personal ban."

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