The building of a hugely lucrative Canary Wharf-style commercial hub, that would include an entertainment complex in which a 40,000-capacity stadium for QPR is built, has always been a key motivation behind the current board’s acquisition of the club.
It would establish Rangers’ Malaysian owners, fronted by chairman Tony Fernandes, as major players in London and beyond.
Eyebrows have been raised at the losses QPR have incurred during Fernandes’ expensive and, so far, unsuccessful reign. And there has been speculation about the long-term state of the club’s finances, the owners’ motivations and whether they would be tempted to jump ship following relegation from the Premier League.
But although their multi-million-pound outlay seems staggering on the face of it, those losses would be dwarfed by the potential windfall from a regenerated Old Oak.
Committed? In it for the long term? You bet – for reasons outlined in a West London Sport article back in April.
So what happens now? Here are some answers to a few of the questions that are bound to be on the lips of QPR fans at this potentially momentous time in the club’s history.
Why have QPR suddenly made this announcement now?
A cynic might suggest that neighbours Brentford recently being given the green light for a new stadium bigger than Loftus Road put the ball firmly in Rangers’ court. In truth, the club moved suddenly because, after months of discussions with relevant bodies, crucial pieces of the jigsaw appear to have fallen into place in a short period of time.
The last of various key stakeholders in the project came on board and QPR also moved swiftly because it seems the Greater London Authority plan to make a related announcement.
What is a letter of collaboration?
It’s a formal letter of intent and essentially means that various important groups, such as the GLA and the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Brent are on board.
When do QPR expect to move to the new ground?
Planning permission is expected to be formally sought towards the end of next year or early in 2015 with a view to the club moving to Old Oak for the start of the 2018-2019 season.
What will happen to Loftus Road?
Current plans will see it turned into flats as part of a revamp of the area which includes the White City Estate.
Who are Stadium Capital Developments ?
SCD is run by Antony Spencer, an entrepreneur behind Arsenal’s move to the Emirates Stadium. SCD is an associated company of Stadium Capital Holdings (www.stadiumcapitalholdings.co.uk)
Who else is involved?
There are various groups involved in the project. They include:
Farrells, who have offices in London, Hong Kong and Shanghai and have worked on projects such as Earls Court and the Royal Albert Dock. The architects have also been active in Asia, most notably in the completion of a 100-storey, 440-metre tower in Shenzhen – the tallest building ever designed by a British architect – as well as the M+ Museum in Hong Kong, Incheon Airport in Seoul, and Beijing and Guangzhou high-speed rail stations in China.
Populous, a sports and entertainment architecture practice which has been involved in the design of various sporting and entertainment venues, including London’s Olympic Stadium, the Sochi 2014 Fisht Stadium, Wembley, the Emirates Stadium, Soccer City, the O2 Arena and the redevelopment and roof of the Centre Court at Wimbledon.
Savills, who are advising on planning. Savills Planning’s previous projects include the Emirates Stadium, the Olympic Stadium, Stadium MK and expansions of The Oval and Lord’s. They have also been consulted by Tottenham and Everton about proposed new stadiums.
Will QPR fill a 40,000-capacity stadium?
This is likely to be the key question for many – and it arguably misses the whole point of this radical re-branding of QPR.
Fernandes is a hugely influential, indeed inspirational, figure throughout large parts of Asia, where the Premier League is already massively popular. Rangers, if established in the top flight and with high-profile players from around the world, could be of global interest and a stadium offering Premier League football in London could be a haven for fans visiting the UK. There would also be ample room for away fans when some of the biggest, most well-supported clubs visit.
So those who wonder how QPR, with a relatively modest fan-base, could fill a 40,000-capacity stadium perhaps need to look at the bigger picture. English football is changing and QPR will certainly change beyond recognition, in its character and make-up, if the owners have their way. And with the west London landscape also changing, things are falling perfectly into place for Fernandes, who also enjoys the unwavering support and trust of a clear majority of fans.
Will QPR still own its own stadium?
This is another potentially key issue. The club know they could could face some backlash from even an overwhelmingly pro-Fernandes fan-base if their answer on this isn’t seen as satisfactory. Their current position is that the stadium will indeed be owned by QPR Holdings, the company which owns the club. QPR Holdings is owned by the club’s shareholders.