Fernandes could hand over to Bhatia at QPR

Amit Bhatia (right) is being lined up for a return to a front-line role at QPR

Tony Fernandes plans to step down in a move which could see Amit Bhatia take a prominent role at QPR again.

Fernandes has for some time been intending to relinquish the title of co-chairman after this month’s transfer window.

Vice-chairman Bhatia, who has been a popular figure among supporters since joining the board after his father-in-law Lakshmi Mittal purchased a stake in the club in 2007, is set to take over as chairman.


Fernandes, facing increasing criticism from Rangers fans on Twitter, has alluded to the planned change since the window for permanent transfers closed on Thursday, telling them “my time as chairman is fast coming to a close.”

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.

Co-chairman Ruben 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 could now take the title of vice-chairman, remaining 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 is being lined up to step in – a move that would 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.