Features & commentQPR owners stay committed because their eyes are on the prize

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes

There has been plenty of speculation about QPR’s finances and how the club’s owners will respond to relegation.

It’s become trendy to suggest Rangers might ‘do a Portsmouth’ – a grim picture painted with some relish by Tony Fernandes’ detractors.

This misses the point, as does basking in the warm glow of assurances about his long-term commitment whenever such platitudes are trotted out.

Both sides are failing to see the bigger picture.

Be in no doubt that Rangers’ owners will remain absolutely committed to their project and have no intention of walking away, regardless of which division the team are in.

Because, although relegation is an obvious major setback, when it comes to the regime’s long-term ambitions, the importance of which division Rangers are in next season is easily overstated.

Notice that whenever the likes of Fernandes and Philip Beard restate the shareholders’ commitment they almost always mention a new stadium in the next breath. That’s no accident.

Leaving Loftus Road is a key aim.

Leaving Loftus Road is a key aim.

Fernandes is presented with a PR open goal when he can heroically reaffirm his commitment to the cause in the face of relegation – because it’s the pursuit of a new sports and entertainment venue, not whether Rangers stay in the top flight, that locks the owners in for the long haul.

Any hitch there would be much more significant than relegation – a potential game changer.

But, Crossrail permitting, such a hitch looks increasingly unlikely.

A new sport and leisure complex in the west/north-west London area could generate an absolute fortune – more than enough to dwarf even the huge losses incurred by Rangers’ feckless spending.

It would be comparable to the regeneration of areas of east London and so would the subsequent wealth to spring from it.

It would also establish QPR’s Malaysian shareholders as major players in London – one of the most prominent cities in the world.

It’s why Beard, a man with little football knowledge or understanding of QPR fans’ priorities, but with a background in branding and having helped establish the O2 Arena as a leading entertainment destination, was installed as chief executive.

And it’s why Fernandes appears so calm and committed despite ill-informed assumptions that the club’s owners can’t sustain the current level of spending.

They can sustain it. And they will sustain it while there’s a potential pot of gold in sight. Much has been lost, but there’s still an awful lot to be gained.

So, fully committed? Absolutely. In it for the long haul? Too right.

A £15m loan secured against the club’s assets last month looks suspicious and will inevitably be taken as a sign of financial stress and the commitment of the regime possibly wavering.

Again, this move has been made largely with the new stadium in mind.

It is a strategic move by Fernandes and chums to test a relationship with lenders Barclays Hong Kong – a growing relationship which has existed for some time and could be called upon in future years if, despite their collective wealth, Rangers’ owners are not keen to fund the entire cost of a new stadium and training ground.

QPR plan to repay it quickly, possibly within three or four months.

QPR chief executive Philip Beard

Beard is overseeing the planned relocation.

In securing such a loan while facing relegation from the Premier League, and in a climate in which banks are reluctant to loan money to football clubs, Rangers have established that, going forward, they won’t have problems getting access to cash.

Of course, ‘doing a Portsmouth’ can’t be ruled out. No amount of money is finite, losses cannot be permanently sustainable, loans secured against the club’s assets are never something to savour, and failing to get back into the top flight would be problematic.

So too would relegation from the Championship which, although an outcome Fernandes’ army of believers probably won’t contemplate, is entirely possible given the shambles he continues to preside over.

But the regime’s pockets are deep and their eyes are on the prize. So although a Pompey-style meltdown could happen, as things stand the club is more likely to end up spiritually rather than financially ruined.

Many dismiss Fernandes’ vision of a 40,000-capacity stadium as a bizarre and misguided pipe dream, given QPR’s relatively modest fan base.

They fail to understand the scope of his rebranding project, which is every bit as radical as Flavio Briatore’s despite the more touchy feely style.

Football, QPR and the London landscape are changing rapidly and over the next few years are likely to change even more.

A state-of-the-art stadium and leisure complex in an overhauled area of west/north-west London, which is home to high-profile players from parts of the world where the Premier League (which Rangers hope to be back in by then) is massive, would be a huge attraction – and extremely profitable.

It would also mean the end of QPR as we know it, which for some will equate to a Wimbledon-style killing of their club and for others will be necessary progress given Rangers’ limited growth potential while they remain at Loftus Road.

Either way, it’s a project Fernandes and co remain determined to press ahead with.



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Comments »

  1. Comment by Danny Gould
    11:33 am

    Enjoyed reading the artical, as for once you wa nots having a go at the club, which made a change, I dont blame the board for going for gold they are brave enough to put there money in, so i hope they make a lot of Money good luck to them. If that means in the future I will be watching players like REMY wearing the shir,t I look forward to the changes.I hope the new ground will still be in the White City area, any news ?

  2. Comment by Nate
    3:31 pm

    I’d disagree Danny, not entirely mind.

    I am keen for the club to progress, and admit to enjoying having a player the calibre of Remy at the club, but at what cost. I want a club I can relate to, feel part of and have a genuine fondness for.

    If we are to be a vehicle simply for some rich people to become richer and their focus is not the club I love, but another goal then I am not sure they are the correct custodians of our club.

    In an ideal world, they could continue to strive for their goal whilst ensuring that the club’s interests are never compromised then everyone would be happy.

    Whether that can happen is another question. The first task is this new stadium, get that right (location / size / design) and they will be onto a good start.

    – Good article Dave.

  3. Comment by Paulrangers
    8:41 pm

    Very new to me slant on things David but it made good reading to a 58 years following supporter of QPR. I have read all of Tf,s posting and have been re-assured on our financial state but that has been questioned by reports that the Mittals are looking for an exit. I really do hope you are right and things do work out as you say David. Many do worry that our following is to small but we had no trouble taking 35000 to Cardiff a few years ago and we have been really restricted at Loftus Road.

  4. Comment by marko
    12:15 am

    Very interesting article which gives context to the events instead of just turning them into a soap like the national dailies do. Hope you’re right ‘David McIntyre, ‘cos the future you describe sounds great!

  5. Comment by Neil Dejyothin
    12:53 am

    It’s a great article David and it cannot be underestimated what a spiritually different club with a different soul could mean.

    This is the part that worries me most; either the owners don’t get it or they don’t really care about it. They also don’t have the personnel working for the club to make them understand it. So it’s up to us as fans to constantly remind them and pray that it works out.

    I remain worried and concerned because these points just seem to be so finely balanced and easily tipped in the wrong direction and I’m scared to death of that future experience not being a satisfactory one for me – as once they take that step there’s no turning back.

  6. Comment by Cumin
    2:04 am

    The article is spot on. Socio-economic uptrend with QPR FC as catalyst, hopefully somehow Aston Villa & Cardiff City will follow suit.

    Malaysia Boleh!

    Better survival chances if these 3 clubs could work together setting up friendly matches, swap players, exchange of ideas etc.

  7. Comment by ole herman
    8:01 am

    From Norway I have read many articles about QPR from your West London Sport website. So far your thoughts about the club in this newsletter is among the most well written ones. Thx a lot and keep up wth news about the club in our harts at this level. I really appreciate this one, because you give us insight in something which is unknown for most of us.

  8. Comment by Danny Gould
    8:44 am

    The way I see it we can carry on as we are with 14000 qpr fans in a out of date stadium, talking about our great history which by the way apart from promotions we have only won 1 minor trophy or we can move to a new ground attract new support aka Reading Arsenal Cardiff Southampton and move on to bigger and better things who knows we might be FA Cup winners Premiership contenders in years to come.

  9. Comment by Irish R
    11:07 am

    Well written Dave. I get the feeling you have a little birdie in your ear as the article had too much facts for it to be just an opinion. As for worried fans, our current coffers are football fans as well as business men. If their long term strategy is to use qpr as a vehicle to a pot of gold then so be it. They cannot do that without a successful club and although we all love fort lotus I for one welcome the prospect t of a state of the art stadium. We have witnessed much change of late not least our club crest but if it is to move us forward to a better future as a club that can compete and not just merely exist I am all for it. QPR FOREVER

  10. Comment by Len phillips
    10:11 pm

    If qpr are so wealthy seems odd that there chairman as to go to Hong Kong to borrow 15million quid !!!!!maybey he should direct his efforts towords getting his club back into the real world better still go to the other side of west London to ffc and see how a proper owner runs a football club

  11. Comment by Aaron
    9:41 pm

    Great article and accurate based on current events. I think as a Rangers fan we have to be realistic, if the club is to elevate its status then it must invest as much if not more into commercial ventures as well as the team in general. Lets also be honest with ourselves why would you buy a football club in England ? The days of buying a team investing in it purely on footballing grounds to see grow are pretty mich over, football is now a business and as such clubs like QPR are trying to develop a global sporting brand as well as build a stadium/entertainment venue to make brand QPR a commercial cash cow. I think the point about whether QPR are in the premiership or not is particularly relevant as the real income and revenue streams will come from the events side of the new stadium if/when it should arrive.

    All in all I still think this is still a time to be optimistic for club, the stadium will be the platform that allows the club to progress into the next level and once established who knows….

  12. […] in The Guardian and by journalist David Mcintyre focused on a just-revealed 15 million pound bank loan…and a new stadium and QPR plans (something […]

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