League offers Briatore chance to make case

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The Independent Football

Flavio Briatore has been given the chance to argue his case after the Football League delayed making a decision on whether the co-owner of Queen's Park Rangers has contravened its "fit and proper person" test.

The League's eight-man board met yesterday to rule if Briatore's life ban from Formula One for instructing driver Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash rules him out of owning the West London club. They were expected to rule that Briatore's ban by the World Motor Sport Council means he fails to meet the League's criteria, which would have seen him disqualified from the QPR board.

But after legal advice the board decided to seek clarification from Briatore before making a ruling. Lord Mawhinney, who chaired the meeting, wants to ensure the whole process is legally watertight.

A spokesman for the Football League said: "The board conducted a comprehensive review, including the receipt of advice from leading counsel. The board will seek responses from Mr Briatore before commenting further."

QPR sources however are surprised by the League's response. They believed Thursday's board meeting was going to deliver a definitive outcome one way or the other, and are surprised at the open-ended nature of the League's statement.

Briatore took over QPR in November 2007 along with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Indian tycoon Lakshmi Mittal. Briatore owns 34 per cent, while Mittal owns 20 per cent and Ecclestone 15 per cent.

The League has also drawn up new rules to insist all clubs must clearly identify who their owners are. The decision follows confusion over the identities of those whose companies now own both Notts County and Leeds United.