Disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore could find out today (Thursday) whether he has lost more than just his position at the forefront of one of the top flight's leading teams – as the Football League determines whether he should similarly be stripped of his co-ownership of London club Queens Park Rangers (QPR) for his leading role in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal.
The FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) found Briatore guilty in absentia
of the charge of having instructed Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in F1's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position following an engine failure in qualifying.
For his crime, the flamboyant Italian was handed down an effective lifetime ban from involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport – including driver management – but his punishment could extend even further than that.
In company with F1's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone and steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, Briatore is on the QPR board – for now, at least, for in the wake of the Singapore controversy, the Football League is considering disqualifying the 59-year-old for failing the 'fit and proper person' test, which bans anyone who is already barred 'from involvement in the administration of a sport by a sport's governing body or such other similar forms of disqualification as may operate from time-to-time'.
Outwardly, that leaves Briatore with little hope of remaining on the board of the Loftus Road club – but British newspaper The Independent
muses that one course of action his lawyers may pursue is to contend that he should not be banned from his QPR duties ahead of a possible appeal into the WMSC ruling lest it unfairly influence the outcome of that appeal.
“The question at issue will be whether the [WMSC] ban is a permanent ban or one subject to appeal,” explained sports lawyer Adam Morallee, whilst Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney – who will chair the reunion that decides Briatore's fate – added: “We need to have legal clarity if somebody is in difficulty with a different sporting organisation as to exactly what the nature of that difficulty is before we try to apply our regulation.
“This is complex and complicated. I have taken legal counsel's advice, [and] we will be going into the meeting with the benefit of that advice. It isn't simple and it isn't straightforward, but I've been around a bit, I have quite good hearing, I understand what's being said and we will reflect that as a board.”
It has also been mused that should the Football league take a dim view of Briatore's activities and indeed bar him from the QPR board, Ecclestone and Mittal may elect to walk away into the bargain, thereby likely leaving the Championship side up for sale.