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Monday, February 20, 2012

QPR Report Monday: Tony Fernandes Profiled and Interviewed...QPR Back From Portugal. Set For Fulham



- From the Bushman QPR Photo Archives
- QPR Nostalgia: QPR's Unbelievable 1967/68 Season: Photos and Programme Notes. (From - of course - The Bushman Archives)
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- QPR Nostalgia: QPR's Unbelievable 1967/68 Season: Photos and Programme Notes. (From - of course - The Bushman Archives)

- Next: Fulham - Shared Players/Past Results/Previews

- Leon Jeanne Still Playing

- Eleven Years ago Today: Iain Dowie "I'd Love to be QPR Boss"

- On this Day in Football: February 20: Tony Roberts Axed...Mick Harford's One QPR Win (Second Spell) and For QPR, a Streaker...VIDEO of Rodney Marsh vs Hull - and Terry Neil Missing Penalty!

- One Year Flashback: Robbo - Neil Roberts - RIP

- Martin Allen Axed by Notts County Update. Keith Curle Linked as Successor

- The Neil Warnock at Leeds Thread and Updates!

- VIDEO: The Vauxhall Motors Humiliation!

- Note: For Users of SPOTIFY - A number of old QPR songs can be heard. Just type in: "QPR...!

- Two Year Flashback: Flavio Briatore Steps Down as QPR Chairman (and QPR Fans cheered what they THOUGHT was the departure of Briatore and the de facto Mittal takeover...But as they learned a year later...!)

- Closed Door Friendly vs West Ham on Friday (West Ham's "Development Team" against presumably similar QPR team)

- Update re Tony Fernandes Business: Tune Mideast Launched

Wall Street Journal/John Crowley

FEBRUARY 20, 2012 - How AirAsia's CEO Spreads His Wings

Tony Fernandes says he is living a "boy's own dream." Last summer, the Malaysian-born entrepreneur was running Asia's biggest budget airline, a Formula 1 team and a global hotel chain. Clearly, this wasn't demanding enough, because in August the self-confessed sports fan paid around £35 million ($55.4 million) for a majority stake in English Premier League soccer team Queens Park Rangers.

Queens Park Rangers' Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes signs autograph books in London before a Dec. 18 game.

For a shy boy who, at the age of 12, was dispatched on his own from Malaysia to a private school in England, Mr. Fernandes has come a long way. In 2001, he paid 25 cents for AirAsia Bhd, a Malaysian government-owned airline. Starting with two planes and $11 million in debt, the low-fares airline has since carried some 120 million passengers from its hub in Kuala Lumpur.

"I bought a football club, I own a Formula 1 team. I have been in the music business and I own an airline," the former Warner Music managing director says with a laugh. "It's kind of unreal. But you do make your own luck and fortune favors the brave."

On any given day, Mr. Fernandes can be found fielding a request for a multi-million-pound soccer player, watching his F1 team Caterham at a racing grand prix, or buying a fleet of planes for AirAsia.

When we meet at his town house in central London, Mr. Fernandes is all smiles, swiftly brushing off the suggestion that he is spreading himself too thinly.

Joined by Philip Beard, the man he appointed as chief executive of QPR, he studies new stadium plans for the club in West London. At the same time, Mr. Fernandes scans the price of oil on his iPad, fires out messages to his 168,000 Twitter followers and explains why attending the exclusive Epsom College as a boy was such a "tremendous" experience.

"What did I take away from it? A challenge—that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. That nothing comes easy in life [and the importance of] teamwork.

"The best part of school in England was that it exposed you to lots of everything—different experiences. It brought your personality out."

Not that life in 1970s Britain was idyllic. Irked at not being invited to the house of a friend's friend, he discovered it was because it was feared he wouldn't be "capable of using a knife and fork."

"He thought we lived in a treehouse," he says. "This was 1977 and no one knew [of] Malaysia," though he stresses such gaucherie was the exception, not the rule.

A decade ago, discontented at the direction the music business was taking, the father of two resigned from his well-paid executive job, remortgaged his house for $500,000 and took on the not-inconsiderable risk of buying up a failing air carrier.

"I went to my boss [at Warner Music] and quit. He was thrilled, because he always wanted to get rid of me... because he thought I was after his job. Which I was! And I walked out not knowing what the hell I was going to do."

Mr. Fernandes, a graduate of the London School of Economics, had been inspired to run his own airline by a visit to Luton Airport, some 40 miles (65 kilometers) north of London, where, by the beginning of the past decade, low-cost European air carriers were in the ascendant.

"I saw Stelios [Haji-Ioannou] on TV talking about [his British low-cost airline] EasyJet. So I went to Luton and I saw people flying to Barcelona for £6 and Paris for £9. Everything was orange. I thought: 'This is great!'"

He credits his mother, Ena, with teaching him the art of selling and introducing him to the romance of flying. A frequent flier, she would be met on her return by five-year-old Tony and his father, a doctor.

"My love for planes started there," he says. "Me and my dad would go to the airport really early. We were early plane-spotters."

Decades later, Mr. Fernandes and his business partner Kamarudin Meranun founded Tune Air Sdn. Bhd., inking the deal for AirAsia within weeks of 9/11, an event that led to the collapse of several major airlines. It was a terrific risk. "There is a very fine line between brilliance and stupidity," Mr. Fernandes concedes. "'You idiot, you gave such a great job away to start an airline.' If it failed a lot of people would have said that, right? But I [had] reached a point and maybe Epsom taught me that you only live once. And if you don't try, you don't know."

The airline was an immediate hit with passengers and, in 2004, it became a publicly listed company after a Malaysian initial public offering. Between 2007 and 2011 it has won travel consultancy Skytrax's best low-cost airline award four times.

Mr. Fernandes has now taken the low-fares model into accommodation, forming Tune Hotels in 2007. With 14 hotels in Asia and Europe, it plans to reach 100 hotels world-wide by 2016.

In 2010, Mr. Fernandes indulged his love of sport by branching off into Formula 1, under the name Team Lotus (now called Caterham for the 2012 season), of which he is team principal.
He is awaiting "payment" from a wager with Richard Branson, a new F1 team principal himself, for whom Mr. Fernandes briefly worked in the 1980s as an auditor at Virgin.

The two F1 newcomers had a bet on which team would finish higher. Mr. Branson lost. The penalty? To work in a female flight attendant's uniform for a day on the winner's airline.

This year, Mr. Fernandes took on a higher-stakes gamble, returning full circle to the U.K. to take a majority stake in QPR, a club that returned to the English Premier League after a 15-year hiatus.

As the chairman of QPR Holdings Ltd., he is the public face of a consortium that took a 66% share in the club. The remaining third is held by the family of London-based Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.

The former music executive in Mr. Fernandes comes out when he describes the marketing potential of the EPL. "English football is massive," he says. "There is only one way that it's going to go. And that's upward."

And he hasn't been afraid to take tough decisions. In January, he sacked Neil Warnock, the manager who brought the club back into English football's top flight, but who had failed to arrest an alarming slide down the EPL table.

Mr. Fernandes took to Twitter to communicate his move, telling shocked fans that it had been a "very, very hard decision."

Since this interview, the QPR chairman has also had to use his experience to contend with a high-profile race incident. In a game with Chelsea, Anton Ferdinand, a player Mr. Ferdinand bought last summer, was allegedly racially abused by John Terry.

Mr. Terry, 31, denies the charge and will appear in court in July. The case itself indirectly brought about the resignation of the England soccer manager. Fabio Capello stepped down this month after the Football Association, the game's governing body, stripped Mr. Terry of the England captaincy.

In a statement issued after the original incident in October, Mr. Fernandes said the club didn't condone racism in any shape or form, but wouldn't be making any further comment on the matter at that stage.

Clearly, QPR has taken up a huge amount of time and energy. But life in the Premier League hasn't dulled his enthusiasm for business. Asked about his recipe for success, he replies: "I honestly believe the first thing in business is: can you make something that people want? Cheap travel in Asia is a no-brainer."

"How do you build a competitive business? Whether it's Lotus, whether it's QPR, whether it's Tune Hotels…build a business that people want. Have the right people. Be focused and allow people to get on and do their jobs. Give them a strategy, but allow them to go and do it.

"The very last thing, which I think is the most important, is: people have simply got to enjoy coming into work." Wall Street Journal


Posted on: Sun 19 Feb 2012

With a hard week of warm-weather training behind them the QPR squad returned home from Portugal this afternoon.

Mark Hughes took his team away from the cold UK conditions to make the most of the break in fixtures and now has his squad ready for the crucial Premier League run-in, starting with Fulham at Loftus Road on Saturday.

After a team meal in Vilamoura last night, the players met for breakfast this morning before a 10.30am coach to Faro Airport.

A private flight was organised as the squad travelled in style, landing at Farnborough Airport shortly after 3pm this afternoon.

Having enjoyed a successful response to such mid-season breaks in the past with Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham, Hughes will be looking for a similar reaction from his QPR players QPR

MIRROR - Warnock wants reunion with Rangers defender

New Leeds boss Neil Warnock is ready to raid his old club QPR to make coach Ronnie Jepson his first signing. Mirror

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- Football Aid 2012 – Play at Loftus Road. And Help Charity!

- - Play: "Spot The Ball!"

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