Council and Fernandes again clash over QPR stadium

Tony Fernandes has once more hit out at Hammersmith & Fulham Council on Twitter after the local authority again questioned the intentions of QPR’s owners with regard to the Linford Christie Stadium.

Seemingly in response to the Evening Standard picking up on comments made by Fernandes on the Open All R’s podcast, the council issued a statement on Wednesday calling for Rangers fans “to lobby their owners to hand over the ownership of their club to the fans so it can remain in the borough.”

It is the second time the council has publicly called for the ownership structure of QPR to change in order for progress to be made on the issue.

In November, the council issued a terse statement suggesting QPR’s owners have been looking to acquire the site of the Linford Christie Stadium on the cheap – or even for free – and that their primary motivation is property development rather than securing the club’s future in the borough.

That was in response to a report commissioned by QPR which concluded that the club relocating to the site next to Wormwood Scrubs could be worth £60m a year to the local economy.

The report also painted a bleak picture of the possible consequences for QPR if the club cannot move there.

‘Property speculation’

Rangers insist they need to leave Loftus Road and that the Linford Christie Stadium site represents the final chance for the club to remain in the borough.

A new stadium as part of a sport and leisure complex at Old Oak, initially the target of the Fernandes-fronted group when they bought QPR in 2011, appears to be a non-starter.

Fernandes, who stepped down as R’s chairman last summer, suggested on Open All R’s that the council had failed to support the club, making a relocation outside of the borough a possibility.

The council have responded by again pointing the finger at Rangers’ owners, accusing them of engaging in “property speculation” – and of attempting to include homes next to Loftus Road as part of a redevelopment deal.

The Linford Christie Stadium is half a mile from Loftus Road

A council spokesperson said: “We’ve had many meetings with Tony Fernandes and his team.

“He’s lobbied us to turn the current QPR stadium into housing and even lobbied us to add in the nearby council homes on Batman Close so he can become one of the biggest developers in White City – one of the hottest development neighbourhoods in the country.

“We’ve been extremely clear that we will never hand over people’s homes on Batman Close to any developer and cannot give any land away for free.

‘Horrific and disappointing’

“If QPR’s owners won’t put their money where their mouth is and invest in the current stadium we’ve offered to consider other options such as renting other sites.

“We think this is a crunch point for QPR. We call on the owners to put the club and its fans first and consider an FC Barcelona-style fan ownership.

“We love QPR but don’t see it as our business to help QPR’s owners engage in property speculation.”

That prompted furious response from Fernandes, who described the council’s statement as “horrific and disappointing” while airing his discontent in a series of tweets.