For soccer fans, the relationship between a club’s manager and owner is usually open to speculation. In most cases, the owner remains behind the scenes, offers few interviews, and only surfaces during an occasional match for their requisite camera shot while sitting in their private seats.
There are more outgoing individuals such as Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan. By his own efforts, he is one of the more popular owners in English football. He never shies from the media and his interviews are usually positive and insightful.
Then there is Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, who remains secluded and never allows for his opinions to be heard in public. He has never granted a single interview, released a statement with quotes attributed to him or offered any kind of public explanation for his decisions. With individuals such as Abramovich, people are only left with conjecture in regards to his relationship with the club’s management.
But once in a while, a person such as Flavio Briatore steps into the limelight.
For those readers who haven’t seen the 2011 documentary, “The Four Year Plan,” you should take the time to track it down (editor’s note, it’s currently available on Netflix streaming). The 2007 film follows Queens Park Rangers Football Club as it is saved from near-bankruptcy and chronicles the club’s effort to win promotion to the Premier League by 2011.
Flavio Briatore is an Italian businessman who saved QPR from liquidation. Although he had no previous experience in football, Briatore announced that he and his fellow investors would take QPR up to the Premier League within four years.
The documentary was the result of Briatore allowing filmmaker Mat Hodgson behind the scenes to film throughout QPR’s journey from the Championship to Premier League promotion. But, Briatore must have then forgotten that documentarian was there, or simply not care.
The Italian billionaire brought new meaning to the term ‘boardroom interference’ with his barmy and childish behavior. He openly chastised the players and managers throughout the film (QPR fired nine caretakers and managers over the course of the film), he argued with home supporters outside of the stadium when someone called him a name (“I want the names of who is booing me, or I sell the club!”), and at one point during a match, he sent a messenger to the give his tactics and team selections to the manager (“You heard what he said? He wants two strikers. Yeah, you can’t play at home with Di Carmine alone up front.”)