QPR welcomes the billionaire effect as Mittal strikes a deal

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Money may not buy happiness, but it can buy a championship-winning football team, a truism lavishly proven by Roman Abram-ovich at Chelsea.

The board of Queen's Park Rangers was yesterday hoping that the arrival of a new billionaire owner in the form of Lakshmi Mittal, head of the world's largest steel company and the richest man in the UK, would herald a similar change of fortunes for the long-suffering club.

The West London club revealed yesterday that the steel baron paid an undisclosed sum for a 20 per cent stake, becoming the latest fabulously wealthy businessman to add an English football club to his trophy case. QPR, currently bottom of the Championship, welcomed the arrival of Mr Mittal, who has an estimated net worth of 20bn. "This investment ...is a great step towards the development of the club and supports the ambition of the shareholders to reach the Premier League in the near future."

Mr Mittal joins the club's other high-profile owners, Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One, and Flavio Briatore, the Renault team manager, who took over the club in September. Mr Mittal will be represented on the board by his son-in-law Amit Bhatia.

QPR declined to comment on spending plans beyond a statement saying: "The new capital being invested in QPR will help fund the programme that is needed to help us to achieve this target."

If recent history is a guide, QPR, which last played in the Premier League in 1996, is probably on the cusp of a liberally bankrolled make-over. It needs it. The club descended into farce last year when details emerged of a boardroom confrontation in which former director Gianni Baldini said he was held at gunpoint to force him to resign and sell his shares.

Mr Mittal's dip into the football world is the latest in a string of such deals. Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister of Thailand, bought Manchester City last summer and immediately splashed out tens of millions of pounds to hire former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson and a raft of pricey foreign players.

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