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Saturday, March 10, 2012

QPR Report Saturday: TEAM vs Bolton...Tony Fernandes on QPR...Mark Hughes Among World's Highest-Paid Managers...Neil Warnock on QPR



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- LIVE CHAT: Bolton vs QPR
QPR Lineup vs Bolton:

Kenny, Diakite, Hill, Derry, Traore, Barton, Cisse, Wright-Phillips, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Zamora

Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Mackie, Buzsaky, Young, Taiwo

- Next: Bolton

- On This Day in Football: March 10 - Leon Knight Made his QPR Debut...Danny Dichio Moves to Wimbledon

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- Port Vale's Plight: Finances...Deducted 10 Points

- FA and Rules of Ownership of Football Clubs


Top 30 Highest Paid Managers

EXPRESS/Tony Banks


Tony Fernandes is keen to restore stability to QPR

Saturday March 10,2012
By Tony Banks

TONY FERNANDES knows a bit about the history of Queens Park Rangers. He has read the cuttings, pondered the dusty old headlines. There is no need to tell him that his club was a byword for chaos long before an astonishing documentary exposed the raw truth of the reign of Flavio Briatore.

A look through the archives would probably have had Malaysian entrepreneur Fernandes sweating. Gun-wielding gangsters storming the boardroom in August 2005. Botched attempts by various owners over the years to merge with Brentford and then Fulham. A club who have already gone bust once and bobbed between the divisions like no other.

And as last week’s explosive Four Year Plan showed, a previous owner in Briatore who went through six managers, tried to pick the team – and threatened to sue the fans.

Fernandes has a job on his hands. The new owner’s aim is to make QPR stable – sensible, progressive and respectable. Good luck with that.

But Fernandes cut a relaxed figure as he leaned back in his seat in an executive box overlooking an empty Loftus Road and uttered the words no supporter wants to hear: “It doesn’t matter if we get relegated.”

So it doesn’t matter if we get relegated. I still have to do what I have to do

Tony Fernandes

What he means is he is in this for the long haul. Fernandes would be “devastated” if they do go down at the end of this season but he will not walk away. His plans to stabilise QPR, to go through with schemes for a new stadium, training ground and academy, will go ahead no matter what.

He should not be underestimated. Here is a man who built an airline from scratch, who is building a Formula One team from the roots.

Fernandes caught the QPR bug when he lived round the corner on the Uxbridge Road in the Nineties. “QPR need a good foundation,” he said. “I am coming in later to this project than with Air Asia or with Caterham. So it doesn’t matter if we get relegated. I still have to do what I have to do.

“I have to build an academy, a training ground. I have to have a manager who will be with me for the next five to seven years and has the same vision.

“So, am I daunted by going down? No. Will I be devastated? Absolutely. But does that mean that is the end of the road for QPR? Certainly not. Many clubs have been down there and been resolute in building again.

“It gives me great satisfaction when I see what Caterham are achieving and Air Asia. And it makes me even more resolute that football is no different.

“The right foundations must be in place. I want boys here who have been here since they were 16, because then they have QPR in their blood. Staying up would make things a lot easier, obviously – and I think we will.”

Fernandes has identified more than three new sites for a prospective new 40-45,000 stadium and negotiations on a new training complex at nearby Osterley are nearing completion.

He started up Air Asia in 2001 with two ageing Boeings and turned them into the biggest passenger carrier in the Far East. Two years ago he launched the Caterham F1 team, who have since registered a remarkable 10th place in each of the past two seasons.

But in buying QPR last August, former accountant Fernandes has taken on his biggest challenge yet. In sacking Neil Warnock and installing Mark Hughes as manager nine weeks ago, he has shown he is not afraid to make the big calls.

Fernandes, 47, said: “This is very different. I have only been in football for five months. If I could do it again, I would have been here in the summer.

“Everything else I have, I built from scratch. Caterham was nothing and we built it in two years into something special. I get a real pump out of that. I bring in the right people, put in the right infrastructure. Air Asia I started with two planes. My first major investment at QPR was the academy.”

It is fair to say it has not been easy. Hughes – who said yesterday he would not have taken the job under Briatore – has registered only two wins in his first nine games despite an influx of new players. Three points at fellow strugglers Bolton today is crucial.

Fernandes is convinced he has the right man. “We expected teething problems,” he said. “Mark has hardly had his first XI on the pitch yet. He is the right guy. I don’t for one second doubt it. He’s hungry and I look for that in people. I look at Fulham, I look at Everton. Those are the models for this club. I am not here to make up the numbers. I am here to compete.” Express

INDEPENDENT - Going down won't ground Tony Fernandes' flight plan for QPR

The Loftus Road chairman tells Tusdiq Din he is intent on building the same team spirit at the club as he put at the heart of his airline Air Asia

Tony Fernandes has moved to reassure Queen's Park Rangers fans that whatever league they find themselves in next season, it will not affect his vision for the club. The Malaysian businessman, who also owns the airline Air Asia, points to his track record in business to underline his commitment to a long-term approach.

"If we get relegated, then we get relegated," says Fernandes. "Yes, it's harder, but we just continue our project and build. This isn't a one-year project. I've never done anything with the short term in view. I'll just plod on and continue to do what I think is right to build something special at this club. I'm looking long-term, not at just one season.

"The similarity with Air Asia is uncanny. I was competing against big-money airlines, with lots of cash. I went out and put my money into building an academy to train my pilots. Why? For two reasons. We only had seven planes; I put all our profit into building an academy because of two very important things and one that isn't talked about in football very much. I want to start a culture."

Loftus Road is the same, Fernandes says. "I want players with heart. When I buy players who have played for seven other clubs, yes they're passionate, but it's very different from a boy who has been here from 16 years old who comes up the ranks.

"When I get a pilot from Singapore Airlines to join Air Asia, yes he works hard, but it's very different from a boy who carried bags for me, who now is a captain; it's different. So the academy is critical. There has been underinvestment in QPR youth teams."

We are sitting in one of the VIP executive boxes at Loftus Road, a much-loved but now dated and cramped venue which Fernandes intends to replace as soon as possible with a new stadium. A new training ground is also on the agenda; Rangers currently rent theirs from Imperial College.

"On the pitch we've got a good squad which hasn't got the results I think it really should be getting – but that's football. It's out of my control and we'll leave it to Mark [Hughes, the manager] and the team.

"I'd love to have a few more points. We've thrown away points by having players sent off. Against Wolves we could've been four or five up [when Djibril Cissé was dismissed]; that could have changed our season, but nothing good is easy. We just have to deal with it."

The appointment of Hughes was controversial, given that his predecessor, Neil Warnock, had taken Rangers into the top flight after a 15-year absence. Fernandes said it was one of the toughest calls he has ever had to make, and admitted it was not universally popular at Loftus Road.

"It was very hard because you must remember Neil brought this club up," he said. "There's big love for him out there. This is a club that was almost bankrupt, it was effectively in the Third Division, and you know he really was a saviour, so it was a very painful decision. It's not fair for me to say all of my reasons for doing it, but no, of course, not just on results. Otherwise Mark would be..." He breaks off in laughter.

I put it to Fernandes that it appeared as if it was Hughes actually interviewing Rangers, and he responds with refreshing honesty. "Yes! He did. He came to find out our plan, which is fair enough. I have been under no pretence that we had to do more selling than him. Let's be real, it was the same with some of the players; we have to go out there and sell ourselves."

There is a mutual respect between Fernandes and Rangers' fans, and that is something that he wants to build on and learn from. "This is me!" he says. "It drives people nuts when I say I want to sit out there [on the terraces], that I want to go and visit the pubs. I know they sit there and go, 'Why is he doing that?' But I can't pretend to be something I'm not. I can't pretend to be a chairman and sit there and not get excited when we score a goal, so I'm not going to.

"I'm not saying you have to be a fan to run a football business, but it helps. Once you get in, you've got to immerse yourself, otherwise you're going to make a pig's breakfast of it." He laughs.

"So this is not something that is easy to run; that's why I go out and meet people, that's why I sit down with Ian [Taylor, the club media officer] and I get his views on players. I suck in everything. I don't think you could run an airline or any business without immersing yourself in it." Independent


"...4 It's tough for bottom three if they lose today

Today's Premier League focus is on the bottom, with some massive games. I do fear for the bottom three if QPR and Blackburn get results today and are able to open a little gap. This is a time when players have to really stand up for their managers.

I feel if QPR can win at Bolton it would be the springboard for the remainder of the season. Given the run of fixtures Rangers have had, they would have hoped to be higher up the table by now, but it is funny the way things can work out; they might find it easier to beat teams who are higher up the league. They certainly have a squad which is more than capable of beating Liverpool next week at home, especially with players coming back from injury and suspension.

While on the subject of my old club, did you watch The Four Year Plan? If you did you'll appreciate why I classed the job as the toughest in my career. I suppose that's why it probably hurt a little bit more when I had to leave. I guess it was a bit unlucky to have three owners in 18 months...." Independent

Posted on: Fri 09 Mar 2012

Mark Hughes has handed Hogan Ephraim a new one-year deal at Loftus Road.

The midfielder - who just missed out on being named in the R's 25-man Premier League squad this season - has put pen to paper on a contract extension until the summer of 2013.

Speaking exclusively to www.qpr.co.uk, Hughes explained his thinking behind offering the former West Ham United ace a new contract, commenting: "When I arrived at the Club Hogan hadn't played much football which made it difficult to include him in the 25. But I felt it was only right that I gave him the opportunity to show what he can do.

"Hogan has got a great attitude and this extension gives him the chance to push on and stake a claim for a place in next season's squad." QPR

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Daily MAIL/Neil Moxley - EXCLUSIVE: Sousa backs himself in QPR row after Four Year Plan screening

Paulo Sousa has broken his silence on the controversial QPR documentary, claiming it was ‘impossible’ for him to have been successful under Flavio Briatore.

The two-time European Cup winner has defended his reputation following the fly-on-the-wall film that charted his five-month stay at Loftus Road.

Sousa was undermined repeatedly by both co-owner Briatore and the club’s sporting director Gianni Palladini as he attempted to steer the west London club away from the lower reaches of the Championship.

In one excerpt Palladini is shown telephoning Briatore to moan about Sousa’s tactics. He then stands outside the dressing-room at half-time, demanding that the manager fields two strikers instead of one.

Matters came to a head when Sousa was sacked for 'divulging highly sensitive information' regarding Dexter Blackstock's transfer to Nottingham Forest - an accusation later rejected by the club’s boss.

Palladini was also later seen referring to Sousa as 'that idiot' before the axe fell.

The former Juventus midfielder, currently managing Videoton in Hungary, said: 'I think people could see for themselves what was going-on. It was as it appeared to be. And that made it impossible for any manager or coach to be successful.

'As a manager, I’ve always said that I’m flexible. That I can adapt to the needs of the players, the staff and the club where I am working. But interference from the boardroom in team matters - both in the dressing-room and at the training ground - meant no-one stood a chance.

'In my time as a player and manager I’ve never known anything like it. Not before nor since.'
Powers the be: Flavio Briatore (top right) was shown to meddle in team matters in the documentary Four Year Plan

Powers the be: Flavio Briatore (top right) was shown to meddle in team matters in the documentary Four Year Plan

Sousa was the first of a succession of bosses brought in to lead the club to promotion, a feat that was eventually achieved by Neil Warnock after Briatore and Palladini had left the club.

He maintained too that the film accurately portrayed what went on with Blackstock’s transfer to the City Ground, adding: 'I don’t need to explain that, people can see for themselves what went on.'

And he claimed that had he been allowed to foster a relationship with board member Amit Bathia that he too would have stood a far better chance.
New dawn: Tony Fernandes is now the man in charge at QPR

New dawn: Tony Fernandes is now the man in charge at QPR

'The players were confused,' he said, 'I'm sure if you speak to them, they will tell you that. The squad enjoyed playing for me, I had a feeling for them, the culture of the club and for the fans who are at the heart of QPR.

'I also had a positive relationship with Amit. He was a person with whom you could talk. I explained to him that the influence of Flavio and Palladini was a negative one. Unfortunately it was too late for me.

'When they stepped back, it was normal again. I remain convinced that I would have achieved things with that club if I had been allowed to operate how I wanted.'

Asked for his feelings on his reign now, Sousa said: 'I appreciated the pair of them giving me the opportunity to manage in England. I cannot forget Flavio’s influence in that.

'Would I shake his hand? It depends on the moment. I’m not a person to keep bad things inside me. But I’m also not a man who forgets.' Daily Mail

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