Gallen among contenders for QPR role after Ferdinand quits

Steve Gallen is a contender to take over as QPR director of football following the departure of Les Ferdinand.

The 49-year-old from Acton has held a similar role at Charlton for the past six years.

Prior to that he spent almost two decades on the coaching staff at QPR, during which he had spells in charge of the academy and as first-team coach.

He left in 2016 as Ferdinand oversaw a series of changes at Loftus Road.

Gallen, a lifelong R’s fan, was with the club as a young player but did not make a first-team appearance.

He is the brother of former QPR forward Kevin, and another of his brothers, Joe, also spent many years as a coach at Rangers.

His recruitment at Charlton has earned him praise and led to him being made a director of the south London club.

A return to west London could now be on the cards after Ferdinand quit.

Other contenders include Kenny Jackett and Luke Dowling.

Jackett also has an association with QPR, having been assistant boss during Ian Holloway’s first spell as manager, and knows Gareth Ainsworth well as the R’s head coach was then a player at the club.

The board are familiar with Jackett too – they considered him for the manager’s job in December 2015 but decided to appoint Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink when choosing between the pair.

That decision was quickly seen as a mistake and, had Jackett not taken over at Rotherham the following year, he rather than Holloway would probably have replaced Hasselbaink.

Jackett, 61, has managed a number of other clubs, including Wolves, Millwall and Swansea, and is currently director of football at Gillingham.

Dowling, 45, was West Bromwich Albion sporting and technical director before leaving in June 2021 following a fallout with the club’s owners. He previously held similar positions at Watford and Nottingham Forest.

Albion and Watford were promoted to the Premier League during Dowling’s spells there.

Meanwhile, former QPR manager Mark Warburton, who has coincidentally left his job as first-team coach at West Ham, would be interested in replacing Ferdinand. He was previously Brentford’s sporting director.

However, disagreements with the Rangers hierarchy led to Warburton being shown the door last year after three seasons at the helm, and something of a reconciliation would therefore be needed in order for him to be a candidate.

Ex-England striker Ferdinand, 56, returned to QPR in October 2014 when he was placed in charge of football operations.

Regarded as one of the club’s greatest-ever players, Ferdinand has been revered by fans since his playing days – but has faced growing criticism from them during the past few years.

That criticism intensified during a miserable season in which Warburton’s replacement, Michael Beale, walked out after 21 games as head coach, his successor Neil Critchley was axed after just 12 at the helm, and the club were almost relegated to League One.

Ferdinand told QPR’s website: “This has not been an easy decision. My life is football, I love football and I want to stay in football but I do feel this is the right time for me to step down from my position here.

“Everyone knows how special Queens Park Rangers is to me and it has been a privilege to be back at the club.

“There have been challenging times and I have had to make some very difficult decisions but every decision I have made has been with the best interests of the club at heart.

“I would like to thank the owners whose commitment to this club is incredible. They have such a strong desire to give QPR fans the club they deserve and I will be their biggest supporter as they look to achieve it.

“I also want to thank the fans. I know it has been difficult for them recently but their passion is what makes them so special. If you want to know what support means, look at our last home game.

“After a tough year, they gave us our biggest attendance of the season. That says everything about the QPR fans.

“This is the club that gave me my chance in football. It will always mean so much to me and I wish the R’s every success in the future.”

Ferdinand impressed the owners as he wrestled with restrictions caused by Financial Fair Play and Rangers sought to balance the books after years of overspending.

But there were tensions, particularly over some managerial appointments and the club’s transfer dealings.

And, following discussions with Ainsworth about transfer targets for the coming season, Ferdinand decided to stand down.

QPR chairman Amit Bhatia said: “I wish to thank Les for his guidance, leadership, determination and friendship over the years.

“This club means so much to him and I have seen that first-hand.

“In an industry where individuals with genuine authenticity and integrity appear to be scarce, Les’s sincerity and honesty have always set him apart, and have made him so special and so valued by the board.

“QPR is Les’s club and he will always be welcome back with open arms at Loftus Road.”