QPR confirm Bhatia as chairman with Fernandes relinquishing title

Amit Bhatia (right) has returned to a front-line role at QPR

Tony Fernandes is stepping down and being replaced by Amit Bhatia, QPR have confirmed.

West London Sport recently revealed that Bhatia was set to take over as chairman, with Fernandes giving up the title of co-chairman and Ruben Gnanalingam potentially reverting to vice-chairman.

The club announced the change on Wednesday afternoon.

Fernandes will now have no official role, while Gnanalingam has also given up the title of co-chairman and will have the vice-chairman title previously held by Bhatia.


Fernandes has faced increasing criticism from Rangers fans on Twitter, whereas Bhatia has remained a popular figure among supporters since joining the board after his father-in-law Lakshmi Mittal purchased a stake in the club in 2007.

QPR’s well-documented failures in the transfer market and resulting financial restrictions have led to many fans turning on Fernandes, who has acted as the front man since the club’s Malaysian owners took over in 2011.

Gnanalingam keeps a much lower profile but is the majority shareholder and has been increasingly involved in the financing and running of the club in the last couple of years, while Fernandes’ input has been reduced.

Gnanalingam will certainly remain heavily involved in the club, but with the London-based Bhatia taking more of a day-to-day role.

QPR co-chairman Ruben Gnanalingam
Ruben Gnanalingam is QPR’s majority shareholder

Just as when the previous Rangers regime, led by Flavio Briatore, were facing criticism from angry fans, the popular Bhatia has stepped in.

The move will doubtless buy the club some time and goodwill during a difficult spell in which Financial Fair Play restrictions are proving hugely problematic.

Briatore announced in 2010 that he was stepping away, while Gianni Paladini relinquished the title of sporting director.

In reality, both men retained their influence and Briatore made his presence felt more and more as QPR edged closer to promotion the following year.


But Bhatia was perceived as having replaced them and was credited with presiding over a stable period in which Rangers went from relegation candidates to title winners with Neil Warnock as manager.

Bhatia then cemented his popularity among supporters by resigning from the board after season ticket prices rocketed following the club’s promotion.

He returned to work with the Fernandes-fronted group after the takeover three months later but has been less prominent in recent years despite remaining passionate about the club.

Bhatia has always enjoyed a good personal relationship with Fernandes but very much favours the quieter approach to running the club also preferred by Gnanalingam and director of football Les Ferdinand, which has sometimes been compromised by Fernandes’ public statements.

Bhatia’s calmer approach during his time at the helm was spectacularly successful, helping transform QPR’s fortunes within months after the very public chaos of the previous few years under Briatore and Paladini.

Rangers are hoping for a similar change of direction again.

“I’m excited to be stepping into the role as chairman of QPR, and have accepted this position fully aware of the responsibilities and pressures that come with this appointment,” Bhatia told Rangers’ website.

“Under my watch, I will ensure that we make decisions that are in the best long-term interests of QPR, and which bring stability and sustainability to the club.”

Fernandes said: “It’s a good time for a change as the club is now in a stable position and this will give the new chairman a good foundation to build upon.

“It’s time for the club to have a chairman who is based in London. It was important for me to step down at a time where we have solved many issues such as FFP, making the club sustainable, building a strong academy and having a strong backroom team.

“I remain a committed shareholder and co-owner and will do what I can to get QPR back to the promised land.

“Like myself and Ruben, Amit cares passionately about QPR and I am sure the supporters will join me in welcoming him to the role as chairman.”