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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

QPR Report Wednesday: QPR 2013-14 Ticket Prices Reportedly Slashed...The QPR-Wimbledon Merger Flashback...Redknapp Appraised...Tony Fernandes on QPR Past and Future







QPR History in Photos: From the 1880s to the 21st Century - The Bushman QPR Photo Archives


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- Chairman Tony Fernandes on London Call In on Thursday


- 12 Years Ago: Ian Holloway on Rebuilding QPR


- QPR Reserves Lose to Reading



- QPR On This Day: Crush Bolton..."Birth of a New Era"...."Win Promotion at Watford - Now Awaiting FA/Faurlingate"



- Year Ago: Dunga Serves Writ on QPR




- QPR and Financial Fair Play


- Year-Old Article re Championship, Financial Fair Play and QPR


QPR TICKET PRICES

According to the Mail: Being reduced 35%. If accurate, very good - Kudos to Tony Fernandes and his board :)

MAIL - Relegated QPR to soothe angry fans with ticket-price drop as Jenas gets set to leave
P
Queens Park Rangers will slash ticket prices by up to 35 per cent for next season after being relegated to the Championship.
Currently, the most expensive adult tickets at Loftus Road are £70, with the cheapest £20.
The move should appease disgruntled Rangers supporters after a poor season.

Dejected: QPR's season has been shambolic from start to finish

Meanwhile, Jermaine Jenas could be the first player to leave Loftus Road.
Sources close to the former England midfielder claim he can leave for nothing due to a relegation release clause.
Jenas, whose wages are part paid by Spurs, signed an 18-month contract with Rangers in January.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/footbal....mpionship .html




The Guardian

The real Harry Redknapp

A year ago, he was tipped to be the next England manager and his Tottenham team were riding high. Today the England job is a distant memory and his new team QPR have been relegated. Is he disappointed? No, reckons his biographer John Crace


On the morning of 8 February last year Harry Redknapp was cleared of tax evasion; that evening Fabio Capello announced his immediate resignation as England football manager. The timing was hardly a coincidence. Capello had never been a popular manager – particularly with football reporters – and after he had made clear the previous year that he was planning to give up the job after Euro 2012, Redknapp had been almost universally anointed manager-elect. With his acquittal, the only obstacle to the succession had been removed.

Harry's Games: Inside the Mind of Harry Redknapp
by John Crace


The Harry love-in continued for a couple of months, with nearly every current England player and football pundit weighing in to back Redknapp as the ideal man for the job. Even the Football Association appeared to be endorsing him, with board member Phil Gartside telling the BBC that Redknapp would be "an outstanding England manager". And then, seemingly out of the blue, Roy Hodgson was given the job. If there had been a shortlist, Redknapp hadn't even been on it, as he wasn't invited for a job interview. Redknapp was gracious about missing out, but it was a public humiliation.

Worse was to come. Before the trial, Redknapp's Tottenham Hotspur team had been playing some of the best football in the Premiership. Afterwards, their form fell away and when Chelsea won the European Champions League, Spurs were squeezed out of the top level of European competition for the following season. It didn't seem quite the time for Redknapp to engage in brinkmanship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy over the renewal of his contract. And so it proved; rather than negotiate, Levy sacked him in June.

By November 2012, Redknapp was back in business at another Premiership side, Queens Park Rangers, but his magic touch again went awol. At the weekend they were relegated.
Harry Redknapp speaks to the press after being cleared of tax evasion, February 2012. Harry Redknapp speaks to the press after being cleared of tax evasion, February 2012. Photograph: Sean Smith for the Guardian

Things haven't exactly been rosy in the England camp, either. Hodgson's tenure has proved much as expected: methodical, hard-working, but inspiration- and charisma-free. England predictably made hard work of Euro 2012, losing to Italy on penalties in the quarter final, and are no certainty to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil next year. Many England supporters who have been observing Redknapp's apparent fall from grace at QPR couldn't help but wonder if Harry wasn't the second-best manager that England never had (the accolade for best still goes to Brian Clough). What almost no one was thinking was whether it was just possible Redknapp had dodged a bullet.

There was a gag going round the terraces of White Hart Lane last season when it seemed inevitable Redknapp would become England manager. "What's the first thing Harry will do when he takes over England? Buy a couple of Croatians." The joke was double-edged, recognising both that the England team looked old and short of quality and that Redknapp's preferred solution at all the clubs he had previously managed was to buy his way out of trouble. With this being a non-starter for an England manager, the implication was that Redknapp would struggle at international level.

And yet it was equally possible that his weaknesses at club level could have proved an asset for England. "The England manager has to play the cards he is dealt," says TalkSport presenter Sam Delaney. "While Harry was very good at wheeler-dealering, it could be very distracting. As England manager, his focus would have been maintained on his existing squad. In the same way, an international manager doesn't have to worry too much about building a squad and developing talent – neither of which are Harry's strongest points; his job is merely to pick the best players who are available to him. Nor does the team ever play so frequently that the squad needs to be rotated – another often-cited Redknapp weakness."

It has also often been argued that Redknapp isn't the greatest tactician – the former Spurs player Rafa van der Vaart once remarked that the tactics chalkboard in the dressing-room was usually kept blank – but he is more than good enough. And his motivational skills would have more than compensated, because at international level a manager is trying to achieve a short-term lift. For a single game or a four-week tournament, Redknapp's basic enthusiasm and common sense are precisely what is needed. Over the course of a full Premier League season, telling a striker – as Redknapp once did to Roman Pavlyuchenko – "to F***ing run around a bit" might end up doing more harm than good, but to get a result over 90 minutes it can be effective street football.

Regardless of the qualities Redknapp may have brought to the job, his time as England manager would, almost certainly, have ended in tears. Because every England manager's does. The national side isn't as good as it thinks it is – or, come the major tournaments, as the media hypes it to be – and the inevitable early exit from the Euros and the World Cup is almost invariably followed by recriminations and a sacking. Not that it would have stopped him from accepting the England job had he been asked. Redknapp was 65 at the time and what better way to end your career than taking over the national side?
Harry Redknapp when he was manager of AFC Bournemouth, 1990. Harry Redknapp when he was manager of AFC Bournemouth, 1990. Photograph: Bob Thomas

A more interesting question, though, is just how much Redknapp really wanted the England job. The answer is not what you might expect. Redknapp has been misread by fans, footballers and reporters for years. Despite appearances to the contrary, Redknapp has never been football's ordinary man; he has always been everyone's exception. Other British football managers may have had more success, but few have been more universally loved. He is a man with the gift of making you feel as if you know him when you don't: a national treasure whose weaknesses only add to his charm.

For some, he is the what-you-see-is-what-you-get, always-ready-to-have-a-laugh character out of an Ealing comedy: for others, including the police on occasion, he is the East End working-class wide boy. The archetypal dodgy geezer. Both versions of Redknapp are hopelessly simplistic. You don't get to manage a Premiership club just by cracking jokes and being charming. A manager who was a soft touch wouldn't last a month.

Neither does the dodgy geezer caricature stack up. There have been rumours about Redknapp's financial dealings for more than a decade, but he was cleared of taking bungs by the Stevens inquiry into corruption in football in 2007, released without charge by the police in the same year after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting, and cleared of tax evasion charges at Southwark crown court in February last year. If there was something desperately dodgy going on, you might have expected it to have emerged by now.

But it isn't just the Redknapp caricatures that have been misread. It is also the finer, more subtle, points of his personality. Starting with his ambition. When Redknapp became everyone's firm favourite for the England job, it was generally assumed that becoming manager of the national team must have been the fulfilment of a lifetime's ambition. And Redknapp did make a few of the right noises. Yet being handed the job on a plate is very different from having a burning desire to do it.

Take a look at Redknapp's managerial career. He was 45 years old when he was forced out/resigned as Bournemouth manager, the age by which many men hope to have made their mark. He then went on to West Ham as number two to Billy Bonds before inheriting – or possibly manoeuvring himself into – the top job. He stayed in east London for about a decade, before falling out with the chairman and finding himself jobless. He then became "director of football" at Portsmouth – a title he had always previously described as a non-job – before again either inheriting or manoeuvring himself into the manager's job. Next up, he had a year in charge of Southampton, in which time the club was relegated from the Premier League, before going back to Portsmouth where he achieved his greatest managerial success by steering the team to a first FA Cup for nearly 70 years.
Harry Redknapp with the FA Cup after Portsmouth's victory in 2008. Harry Redknapp with the FA Cup after Portsmouth's victory in 2008. Photograph: Rex Features

Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth and Southampton were clubs where a little of Redknapp's stardust would go a very long way and where his managerial weaknesses would not come under too heavy a spotlight. Portsmouth's FA Cup success caught people's attention and the big clubs did come knocking.

Spurs were the first truly big team that Redknapp managed and he was over 60 when he took the job. It wasn't a job he had actually been seeking and a large factor in his agreeing to accept it – apart from the money – appeared to be that London was close enough to his home in Sandbanks near Poole in Dorset for him to commute daily. A lifestyle choice, rather than the realisation of a football dream.

All in all, then, Redknapp's may have been the career of a hard-working and talented manager, but it wasn't one driven by the vaulting ambition of a Fergie, Wenger or Mourinho, the alpha males of football for whom anything less than 110%, heart-on-sleeve commitment to being the best is an intolerable admission of weakness. Redknapp wants to do well, he's prepared to work hard to succeed, but the bottom line is that there are other things that mean more to him than football. Redknapp's main aim has always been to make a living out of the game, to earn enough money to provide for his family while doing something he enjoyed.

Doing a job he liked and being able to return home to his wife Sandra and the dogs to stare out across Poole harbour through the telescope he had mounted in his living room was all he had ever dreamed of when he first went into management. After he had finished his playing career for the Seattle Sounders in the US in 1979, Redknapp had returned to the UK unsure of his future: he had never made any real plans for a life after hanging up his boots and only drifted into management when his old friend and mentor, Bobby Moore, asked him to be his assistant manager at non-league Oxford City on £120 per week.

Redknapp was grateful for the work but shocked at how far Moore had fallen. "It had never occurred to him that a World Cup-winning captain and football legend could end up managing a non-league side, playing against opponents who openly disrespected his reputation," says Pete Johnson, a local sports reporter who has known Redknapp since his early days at Bournemouth. "It was a real wakeup call for Harry. If it could happen to Bobby, it could happen to anyone. From that point on, Redknapp was determined he wasn't going to end up as one of the vast number of bitter ex-footballers who had been spat out and left broke and broken by the game. He was going to keep his wits about him and not let anyone take advantage of him. From then on, whatever career he could make in football was going to be on his own terms as far as possible. And he wasn't going to end up penniless."

And he didn't, though it was a close run thing in the early days. Before he got the job at Bournemouth he considered spending his last £17,000 on buying a cab. Thankfully for football – and the south coast passengers who have been spared his patter – things worked out rather better for Redknapp. The 2012 Sunday Times Rich List in Sport ranked him in 84th place with a salary at Tottenham Hotspur of £4.4m a year and assets of £11m: those who were familiar with Redknapp's financial arrangements considered £11m to be a very conservative estimate.

Long after most of his contemporaries have retired to the golf course, Redknapp is still at it, doing what he loves best. Sure, he's disappointed that he didn't get to manage England, though he is not that sorry to have escaped a lot of the boredom that comes with the job. And sure, he is disappointed he couldn't prevent QPR from getting relegated, but it is not the end of the world. Redknapp had always been on a win-win bet at Loftus Road. If the club stayed up he would be a hero and collect a £1m bonus; if not, almost all the blame for its predicament would be attached to the former manager, Mark Hughes.
Besides, managing a Championship side isn't that bad. Redknapp has done it before and he'll do it again, if necessary. And there is always the chance that come December this year he will get a call from the chairman of another Premier League club – preferably within commuting distance of Sandbanks – who would be looking for him to get the team out of another relegation dogfight. Plus ├ža change. The sweat, the mud, the adrenalin, the agony, the joy. Who could resist? A footballer is a long time out of the game and Redknapp isn't planning on going away anywhere sooner than necessary.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2013/....napp?CMP=twt_gu


QPR OFFICIAL SITE





QPR OFFICIAL SITE - TONY FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE


PUBLISHED
15:00 30th April 2013

Fernandes on the front foot, but admits mistakes have been made

Warren Farm is a massive statement of intent and something we’re all very excited about."
Tony Fernandes
QPR CHAIRMAN Tony Fernandes wants to forget the past and focus on the future – with plenty of positives on the horizon for Rangers supporters.

Fernandes has openly admitted relegation from the Premier League has come as a ‘major blow’ for him and his fellow shareholders, but typical of the man himself, the forward-thinking R’s head honcho is excited about the challenge that lies in wait.

Plans for a new state-of-the-art training complex at Warren Farm were approved last week and with talks on-going regarding a potential site for a new stadium, Fernandes – who turned 49 today (Tuesday) – is in optimistic mood.

“We inherited a club that was actually in a pretty poor shape – no training ground, a stadium that is clearly too small, and a squad that wasn’t up to the Premier League,” he told www.qpr.co.uk.

“There are certain elements of a football club that you have got to plan out, and we can’t stay at Harlington forever. 

“We have the youth side located at The Concorde Club, and the first team at Harlington. It’s not right.

“The current training ground is one of the things we inherited. We were trying to do things as quickly as we could. We never, never bargained on being relegated. But that doesn’t stop us from continuing on the roadmap, and hopefully developing players that can come through the various age groups.

“Warren Farm is a massive statement of intent and something we’re all very excited about."

Honest as ever, Fernandes admits mistakes have been made along the way, but he insists he is ‘two years wiser’ for the experience and is determined to bounce back.

“Much can be said about the buying process, but no one could argue that we should have kept the squad as it was when we took over,” he said.

“The game before I took over, we lost 4-0 to Bolton. The manager came to me afterwards and said he thought we should buy this player and that player.

“There’s no doubt – and hindsight is a wonderful thing – that some of our buys haven’t worked out, but at the time we went with what the management believed in and if you believe in the management, you listen to what they are saying.”

He added: “Going down is a major blow. We never expected to be relegated this season but you learn and you become stronger.

“Nothing we’ve experienced has killed us. It’s going to be very hard in the Championship but we’ve got to all stick together, go out there and get ourselves out of this mess.

“If you want things in life, you get them. I’m no footballing expert, but when you see players walking back or appealing for something when the ball is still in play, as a 12 year-old I wouldn’t have done that. It’s difficult to comprehend when you see that.

“I went to many games and having spoken to Ruben, Din and Amit, we always felt we could get out of it if the players wanted it enough.

“I want to say one thing though – relegation wasn’t solely down to those players who didn’t care as much as me and the other owners and the fans.

“I think if we had more heart though, we would have fought harder. I don’t think the heart was there from all the players.”   QPR

12 Years Ago - The QPR - Wimbledon Proposed Merger



QPR Official Site - May 1, 2001

STATEMENT REGARDING POSSIBLE QPR MERGER WITH WIMBLEDON FC


In response to todays press speculation the board of Loftus Road makes the following statement:

"It is true that we are in very early stage discussions with Wimbledon Football Club about a possible merger. It is not helpful that the news has leaked as we were intent on exploring the opportunity in a sensible and controlled manner which included sending a letter to all season ticket holders, club members, and shareholders asking them of their opinion and whether the proposal is worth pursuing. Should these discussions continue the questionnaires will be distributed in the near future and we welcome honest and constructive feedback. The talks with Wimbledon will only continue if there is general approval from our supporter base.

Our initial view is that in the current financial environment for football outside the Premier League the idea could have merit and maybe worth exploring further but we must emphasise it is still very early days and no firm agreement whatsoever has been reached. Any merger will clearly be subject to the approval of the Football League, however the nature of the talks have included the possibility of the new Club playing in Division One at Loftus Rd, with the name and colours reflecting elements of both Clubs.

At this time there is little more that can be said until the views of our supporters have been canvassed and a decision is made as to whether to take discussions further or not"


Mail/Evening Standard Mick Dennis

Football: QPR in merger talks with Dons


Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers are in talks about a merger. A meeting of the board of the Nationwide League will be told details of the scheme today.

Negotiations between the two London clubs are well advanced and those in favour of the merger want it to go through in time for the new, joint club to kick off the 2001-02 season.

The new club would play at QPR's Loftus Road ground but the League would have to decide what division the club would play in. Rangers are due to start next season in the Second Division after being relegated and Wimbledon are in the First.

The deal makes financial sense because it would pool the resources of two clubs suffering serious financial problems.

QPR are in administration with debts of about �8 million. Wimbledon have no home ground of their own, are tenants at Crystal Palace's ground, Selhurst Park, and have been playing in front of tiny crowds all season.

But news of a possible merger will be devastating for fans of both clubs.

One big obstacle to the deal is the attitude of QPR owner Chris Wright, the multi-millionaire founder of the Chrysalis media empire.

Although he wants to sell his controlling interest in QPR, he remains an ardent supporter of the club and does not want to go down in history as the man who let the club disappear.

Wright is thought to be insisting that whatever the new club are called, the name starts with some reference to Rangers.

Wimbledon, owned by Norwegian Bjorn Gjelsten, the head of a Scandinavian business conglomerate, argue that since they are not crippled by debt they are putting more into the deal than QPR and that should be reflected in the name.

Wimbledon's future has been in doubt since the club left their home at Plough Lane 10 years ago.

Sharing Selhurst Park with Crystal Palace was supposed to be only a temporary arrangement but Wimbledon's failure to win planning approval from Merton Council made them long-term exiles.

While they were owned by Sam Hammam, Wimbledon entertained the notion of playing in Dublin and Milton Keynes. There were discussions about becoming the Dublin Dons, to tap into the passion for Premiership football in the Republic of Ireland, and there was also a serious plan to play in a new stadium near Milton Keynes as MK Dons

Wimbledon also considered a merger with Palace in May 1999 but that notion was scuppered because it would have cost Wimbledon their Premiership status.

QPR have also been the subject of merger talks on several occasions. In the Sixties there was talk of them joining forces with Brentford and then, in the Eighties, they were owned by the property company which also had interests in Fulham and Chelsea and, at one time, it was suggested that one club would be formed combining all three.

Supporters of QPR and Wimbledon have always reacted angrily and campaigned against merger schemes and takeover talk and will be praying today that the latest scheme is halted.

Mergers have never gone down well with fans. Reading supporters took to the streets in 1983 when Robert Maxwell talked of merging their club with Oxford United under the name of Thames Valley Royals.

This time, however, pooling the resources of QPR and Wimbledon makes sense financially.

Without a home ground of their own and with crowds which are regularly smaller than 6,000, Wimbledon do not have spare resources. Nor do they have the opportunity to build a commercial income sufficient to sustain life in the Premiership, should they ever get back there.

Only 4,956 turned up to see their match against Huddersfield on Tuesday.

Wimbledon are building a new training centre at the Prince George's Playing Fields in Raynes Park and they have committed a lot of time and money on the scheme.

Queens Park Rangers could soon be without a training ground.

Their parent company recently bought the former British Gas sports ground site in Acton.

However, Wright, who is still chairman and owner of Wasps rugby club, wants the site to belong to the rugby club. He wants it to be the base for their amateur, women and junior sections.

Wasps, at present, rent rugby pitches at the Bisham Abbey national training centre in Berkshire.

QPR must find new investment. Wright is helping to bankroll the payment of staff until the end of the season but the future of the 22 players whose contracts run out in the summer depends on whether QPR secure a new owner.

A merger would have ramifications for Crystal Palace, who moved closer to First Division safety last night by beating Portsmouth. They would obviously lose the rent they receive from Wimbledon.

BBC

Thursday, 3 May, 2001,
Wimbledon and QPR in merger talks
QPR and Wimbledon could be set to merge

The two teams may no longer be in competition soon
A city based consortium is attempting to prevent the possibility of a merger between Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers, after the clubs announced they were in talks.

And the Football League have confirmed that their board has discussed the issue and would "give favourable consideration to any proposal".

But the consortium is reportedly preparing a �12m bid to buy QPR in an attempt to maintain the club's separate identity.

The consortium wants to buy Rangers, rugby union outfit London Wasps and their parent company, Loftus Road plc, and is set to publicly declare its interest shortly.


QPR fans will fight to retain the identity of our club. We know that Wimbledon fans will do the same
Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st
Confidentiality agreements have so far kept the identity of the consortium secret, though pressure is quickly growing for the backers to reveal themselves.

Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel confirmed talks have taken place, but said no merger was imminent.

"We have been approached by QPR and while discussions regarding the idea of a possible merger have taken place, we realise that no agreement could ever be reached without consulting our supporters first."

And he added the club plan to meet with supporters to discuus the idea before the final game of the season.

A statement from the Football League on Thursday said: "At its meeting in London today, the board of the Football League were informed in outline of a proposed merger between Queens Park Rangers FC and Wimbledon FC.

"The board now awaits the submission of a formal proposal for its discussion.

"The board indicated that whilst they will give favourable consideration to any proposal, they must also bear in mind the implications for the league competition and for the supporters of both clubs.


No true QPR fan supports a merger
Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st
The board will also seek legal advice on the matter.

Rangers are in administration with debts of around �11m, but own their Loftus Road ground.

Wimbledon on the other hand, are looking for their own home and would relocate to west London if the merger was given the go-ahead.

Alternative

The move is being presented as an alternative to Rangers going out of business.

But the consortium, which first tabled its offer several weeks ago is now looking to provide an alternative.

Its bid is for both the rugby and football wings of the plc and would involve QPR and Wasps sharing Rangers' Acton training ground.

A bid for Wasps and the Twyford Avenue training site from Loftus Road owner Chris Wright has already been accepted by the administrators.

The consortium has indicated it is still interested in acquiring QPR if Wright's purchase of Wasps goes through.

QPR 1st, the Queens Park Rangers Supporters Trust, has also said it will vigorously oppose any merger between the two clubs.

Fans opposed

Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st said: "QPR fans will fight to retain the identity of our club. We know that Wimbledon fans will do the same."

Representatives of QPR 1st and QPR owner and now ex-chairman Chris Wright are set to meet in the near future and the supporters group will be seeking assurances from Wright that no merger is planned or being considered.

Loftus Road plc, the owners of QPR, also issued a statement saying they were disappointed that talks of a merger had already become public knowledge.

The statement read: "It is not helpful that the news has been leaked as we were intent on exploring the opportunity in a sensible and controlled manner.

"That included sending a letter to all season ticket-holders, club members and shareholders, asking them of their opinion and whether the proposal is worth pursuing.

"Should these discussions continue, the questionnaires will be distributed in the near future and we welcome honest and constructive feedback.

"The talks with Wimbledon will only continue if there is general approval from our supporter base.

If QPR and Wimbledon merge we would be interested to talk to them about a possible ground share
Brentford chairman Ron Noades
"Our initial view is that, in the current financial environment for football outside the Premier League, the idea could have merit and may be worth exploring further."

And they added: "The nature of the talks have included the possibility of the new club playing in Division One at Loftus Road, with the name and colours reflecting elements of both clubs."

Speculation that a third London club, Brentford, could also become involved have been dismissed by chairman Ron Noades.

Noades had been linked with a rival bid for QPR but told the Evening Standard: "We are not interested in any merger with or takeover of QPR.

"We were in talks with QPR about a possible ground share at Loftus Road but those cannot proceed until the club is out of administration.

"In the meantime, our own talks about a new ground for Brentford in the borough of Hounslow are progressing well.

"If QPR and Wimbledon merge we would be interested to talk to them about a possible ground share if we do manage to move to a new home ourselves."






Independent - Supporters shout down QPR-Wimbledon merger

By Steve Tongue

Friday, 4 May 2001


Queen's Park Rangers and Wimbledon have effectively admitted defeat for a proposal to merge after furious opposition from supporters. But the plan will not be the last such attempt at combining clubs or grounds in London's saturated football market.

Queen's Park Rangers and Wimbledon have effectively admitted defeat for a proposal to merge after furious opposition from supporters. But the plan will not be the last such attempt at combining clubs or grounds in London's saturated football market.

The two struggling First Division clubs � QPR will be relegated after Sunday's final match of the season � sounded out the Football League yesterday, but had to back-track once the news was leaked, to a predictably hostile reaction. Wimbledon's chairman, Charles Koppel, said: "We have been approached by QPR and, while discussions about a possible merger have taken place, we realise that no agreement could ever be reached without consulting our supporters first."

Loftus Road plc, the parent company which owns Rangers, said: "It is not helpful that the news has been leaked as we were intent on exploring the opportunity in a sensible and controlled manner. The talks will only continue if there is approval from our supporter base."

It quickly became evident that no such support would be forthcoming from the fans of either club. The Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association declared: "We unequivocally oppose the merger of two separate identities, families, supporters and histories. We urge the vigilance of Wimbledon and QPR supporters and ask that you make your voices heard far and wide."

Libby Magrill, speaking for QPR 1st, the recently established supporters' trust, said: "Any move to merge QPR with Wimbledon will be opposed by every possible means. QPR fans will fight to retain the identity of our club. We will be seeking a clear statement from the Football League on this latest development. If they sanction the merger, what next? It could open the floodgates and kill off many of our clubs."

The League confirmed that its executive board had been informed of the proposal and added: "Whilst they will give favourable consideration to any proposal, they must also bear in mind the implications for the league competition and for the supporters of both clubs."

The clubs appeared keen to push the plan through in time for next season if possible. A merged club would have to take its place in the lower division of the two � the Second Division � which would present complications concerning promotion and relegation, including the question of whether any team went down from the Nationwide League to the Conference.

Just as Reading and Oxford United supporters did when Robert Maxwell wanted to create "Thames Valley Royals", followers of both clubs have resisted similar plans in the past, with Rangers normally the predators. In 1967 they tried to take over Brentford and move to Griffin Park; the move was defeated when Brentford's chairman, Jack Dunnett, sold his controlling interest to a syndicate of supporters. Twenty years later QPR proposed merging with Fulham, whose supporters were also able to help save their club and ground, backing Jimmy Hill as the new chairman.

Wimbledon fans have learnt to live with uncertainty almost from the time they became a League club in 1977. Their then-chairman, Ron Noades, wanted to merge them with Crystal Palace, but ended up selling the club to Sam Hammam and buying Palace instead. He was eventually able to lure Wimbledon to Selhurst Park as Palace's tenants, where they remain, Hammam's sale of the club to Norwegian owners having done nothing to end speculation about relocating anywhere from Milton Keynes to Dublin.

Noades has moved on to become chairman of his third London club, Brentford. He insisted yesterday that he was not involved in the new plans, but admitted he would be interested in ground-sharing if Brentford are able to build a new stadium in Feltham. He has also talked to QPR about sharing Loftus Road.

It would hardly be surprising if Noades became a principal figure in any future developments. He has always cherished the idea of building one major South London club to challenge Arsenal and Tottenham, but, having failed to make Palace the core of it, he sold up, at a huge profit, while keeping the freehold of their Selhurst Park ground.


GUARDIAN
Guardian/Martin Thorpe - May 4, 2001

Fans rebel as London clubs talk of merger


Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers moved last night to defuse fan fury by pledging that a proposed merger of the clubs would not go ahead if supporters strongly object to the controversial plan.

The two London clubs admitted they have held talks about a merger as a way to overcome their problems: Wimbledon of the First Division have no ground and a small fan base while QPR, just relegated to the Second, are in administration with debts of �8m.

The plan was even discussed at a meeting of the Football League board, who gave it a provisional green light though they had not received any concrete submission from either club.

But supporter reaction was immediately hostile, with protests planned and vows made to "fight any merger to the end".

Although QPR initially approached Wimbledon with the plan, the Dons chairman Charles Koppel summed up their joint thinking when he said yesterday: "Both clubs have a unique set of problems and we have to ask, is there a way to resolve those problems? Are we stronger together than apart?

"We are committed to exploring all available options for strengthening the club on and off the pitch. Our initial view is that, in the current financial environment for football outside the Premier League, the idea could have merit and may be worth exploring further."

Both clubs had been hoping to persuade their fans of the practical and financial merits of a merger.

Despite 30 declarations of interest in buying out the current QPR owner Chris Wright, no firm offer has come in, even from a City consortium who came to light yesterday and are allegedly considering a �12m takeover.

The plan would see a new club emerge called Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers - other names floated yesterday included Queens Park Dons and Wimbledon Rangers - playing at Loftus Road in the Second Division, depending on league approval.

Wimbledon's Terry Burton would be manager of the new club and the shirt colours would reflect those of both teams.

The two clubs set out on talks hoping the climate of supporter obstruction which saw stillbirths for two previous proposed mergers -Fulham Park Rangers and Thames Valley Royals (Reading and Oxford) - had changed. They also felt it would be easier in the case of teams that did not have a historic rivalry.

QPR, though accepting they would lose some fans, had even estimated that the new team would attract between 10,000 and 12,000 for the first game next season.

But the leak to a national newspaper caught both clubs by surprise and dented hopes of persuading fans of the financial and practical advantages. There was some suspicion that this was the motive behind the leak.

Libby Magrill, a spokeswoman for QPR 1st, the QPR Supporters Trust, insisted: "QPR fans will fight to retain the identity of our club. Any move to merge QPR with Wimbledon this year, or at any stage in the future, will be opposed by every possible means."

The Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association declared that they "unequivocally oppose the merger of two separate identities, families, supporters and histories".

Wisa and QPR 1st plan to lobby the league while a protest by Wimbledon fans is scheduled for the final game, at home to Norwich on Sunday. At QPR supporters demonstrated outside Loftus Road yesterday.

QPR quickly issued a statement criticising the leak and insisted that before any final decision they had always intended to consult their supporters, via a questionnaire, in a "sensible and controlled manner", and will do so still if merger discussions continue.

Privately QPR went further. "It had always been decided this wouldn't go through without the blessing of the majority of the fans," insisted one source. "It just wouldn't have worked."

Koppel took a similar line. "It has to come down to whether or not the supporters feel that it is something they can buy into."


Guardian

QPR and Wimbledon in merger talks
Scott Murray guardian.co.uk, Thursday 3 May 2001


Queens Park Rangers have confirmed they are in "very early stage discussions" with Wimbledon about a possible merger of the two clubs.

The talks began after QPR were put into administration with debts of around �8m, while Wimbledon have been searching for a permanent home for several years.

The announcement came after a report in this morning's Sun. The article claimed that the proposed new team will be coached by Dons boss Terry Burton and will play its home games at Loftus Road.

However, a spokesperson for Loftus Road plc, the owners of QPR, was at pains to state that a final decision has yet to be made.

"Our initial view is that, in the current financial environment for football outside the Premier League, the idea could have merit and may be worth exploring further," he explained.

"But we must emphasise that it is still very early days and no firm agreement whatsoever has been reached. The talks with Wimbledon will only continue if there is general approval from our supporter base."

Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel also played down the reports.

"No agreement to merge Wimbledon with QPR has been reached," he insisted. "While discussions regarding the idea of a possible merger have taken place, we realise that no agreement could ever be reached without consulting our supporters first.

"If the fans felt that this was not the best thing, we would re-evaluate and move along a different route."

Unsurprisingly, supporters have already opposed the mooted merger.

Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st, the Queens Park Rangers Supporters Trust, said: "Historically, QPR fans will not support a merger with any other Football League club.

"Proposed mergers with Brentford in 1967 and Fulham in 1987 were successfully opposed by the fans, and any move to merge QPR with Wimbledon this year, or at any stage in the future, will be opposed by every possible means.

"QPR fans will fight to retain the identity of our club. We know that Wimbledon fans will do the same."

Wimbledon fans also expressed their opposition to the proposal, promising to protest at a meeting between the club and supporters' organisations later this week.

The Wimbledon Independent Supporters' Association declared that they "unequivocally oppose the merger of two separate identities, families, supporters and histories" and added: "At our forthcoming meeting on Sunday with chairman Charles Koppel prior to the final game of the season, we shall be discussing and exploring the way to go forward.

"In addition, we shall be making clear to the owners of Wimbledon Football Club our desire for our own stadium and retained identity.

"We urge the vigilance of Wimbledon and QPR supporters during this time and ask that you make your voices heard far and wide."

Meanwhile, speculation that a third London club, Brentford, could also become involved was dismissed by chairman Ron Noades, who had been linked with a rival bid.

Noades told the Evening Standard: "We are not interested in any merger with or takeover of QPR.

"We were in talks with QPR about a possible ground share at Loftus Road but those cannot proceed until the club is out of administration.

"In the meantime, our own talks about a new ground for Brentford in the borough of Hounslow are progressing well.

"If QPR and Wimbledon merge we would be interested to talk to them about a possible ground share if we do manage to move to a new home ourselves."

It has also been reported that an unidentified City-based consortium are preparing a �12m bid to buy QPR outright and keep the club's identity.

Their bid is for the rugby and football wings of Loftus Road plc and would involve QPR and Wasps sharing Rangers' Acton training ground
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2001/may/03/newsstory.sport8



Guardian

QPR-Dons merger 'to be dead within 48 hours'

Sean Ingle guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 May 2001


proposed merger between Wimbledon and Queens Park Rangers is likely be called off within the next 48 hours after opposition from supporters groups.

"The merger isn't going to happen," QPR 1st spokesperson Libby Magrill told Guardian Unlimited today. "We met with QPR chairman Chris Wright yesterday, and although he wasn't that keen on the idea anymore anyway, we helped to persuade him that it was an awful plan."

"QPR had planned to send a questionnaire about the merger to supporters, but I don't think they are going to do it anymore," she added. "What's the point? They know everyone is dead against the plan."

"The Wimbledon Supporters Association will meet with their chairman Charles Koppel on Sunday, but by then I think the deal be dead."


This is Local London

Qpr Fans Scupper Plan To Merge With Wimbledon
Wednesday 9th May 2001


Fan power has killed off suggestions of a merger between Queens Park Rangers and Wimbledon football clubs.

On Thursday last week, QPR's board said in a statement: "It is true that we are in very early stage discussions with Wimbledon Football Club about a possible merger." But outraged QPR fans immediately set about scuppering the idea.

Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st, the Queens Park Rangers Supporters Trust, said the group would vigorously oppose any merger between QPR and Wimbledon. "Historically, QPR fans will not support a merger with any other Football League club. Proposed mergers with Brentford in 1967 and Fulham in 1987 were successfully opposed by the fans."

Only three days later, the Loftus Road-based club reversed its intentions: "After serious consideration and talks with supporters, the boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon Football Club regarding a possible merger any further."

The merger was seen to have financial merit because it would have pooled the resources of two clubs suffering serious financial problems. QPR are in administration with debts of about �8 million and Wimbledon have no home ground of their own.

There was also confusion about which division a merged club would play in. Currently Wimbledon are in Division One and QPR, following this season's relegation, will start next season in Division Two.

Both QPR and the Wasps Rugby team are owned by Loftus Road plc, whose chairman is Chris Wright, the multi-millionaire founder of the Chrysalis media empire. Mr Wright wants to sell his controlling interest in QPR, but keep the Wasps, ending the link between the two organisations.

There will be a special meeting of Loftus Road on May 16 to debate Mr Wright's offer to buy Wasps.Fan power has killed off suggestions of a merger between Queens Park Rangers and Wimbledon football clubs.

On Thursday last week, QPR's board said in a statement: "It is true that we are in very early stage discussions with Wimbledon Football Club about a possible merger." But outraged QPR fans immediately set about scuppering the idea.

Libby Magrill, spokeswoman for QPR 1st, the Queens Park Rangers Supporters Trust, said the group would vigorously oppose any merger between QPR and Wimbledon. "Historically, QPR fans will not support a merger with any other Football League club. Proposed mergers with Brentford in 1967 and Fulham in 1987 were successfully opposed by the fans."

Only three days later, the Loftus Road-based club reversed its intentions: "After serious consideration and talks with supporters, the boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon Football Club regarding a possible merger any further."

The merger was seen to have financial merit because it would have pooled the resources of two clubs suffering serious financial problems. QPR are in administration with debts of about �8 million and Wimbledon have no home ground of their own.

There was also confusion about which division a merged club would play in. Currently Wimbledon are in Division One and QPR, following this season's relegation, will start next season in Division Two.

Both QPR and the Wasps Rugby team are owned by Loftus Road plc, whose chairman is Chris Wright, the multi-millionaire founder of the Chrysalis media empire. Mr Wright wants to sell his controlling interest in QPR, but keep the Wasps, ending the link between the two organisations.

There will be a special meeting of Loftus Road on May 16 to debate Mr Wright's offer to buy Wasps.

By.Ted Bridges


 AND THEN...


QPR call off Dons merger
By Chris Jones Last updated 08.05.01


Queens Park Rangers today said they are abandoning merger talks with Wimbledon.

The bitterness about the suggested merger of the two clubs was evident from both sets of fans at the weekend and today QPR released the following statement: "After serious consideration and talks with supporters, the boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon Football Club regarding a possible merger, any further.

"Although the proposal had some financial and theoretical merit, the strength of feeling from supporters to maintain the QPR identity and history was overwhelming, and had it gone ahead would have alienated, perhaps irrevocably, a large section of supporters without whom the club could not survive.

"In addition, the board would like to point out that no talks are being held with Ron Noades and Brentford. Discussions, however, continue with other interested parties and the board, together with the administrators, are working hard to secure the best deal for the future of the club."

On Sunday, Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel employed bodyguards to shadow him during the Norwich game at Selhurst Park, where Dons supporters demonstrated.

QPR owner Chris Wright was berated by angry football fans at the London Wasps's rugby match at Loftus Road, where there were heated exchanges between football and rugby fans.

QPR and Wasps are owned by Loftus Road plc, whose chairman is Wright. He wants to split the football and rugby clubs by paying �5 million for Wasps. Under the merger plan, QPR and Wimbledon would then have become one club, playing at Loftus Road and training at Wimbledon's new training ground at Raynes Park.

It was confirmed today, however, that a city consortium, fronted by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tim Razzall, are trying to put together a rival bid. The consortium want to keep the Wasps and QPR clubs together by taking over Loftus Road plc for �12m.

They say that keeping Wasps and QPR together would avoid acrimony over the future of Rangers' Twyford Avenue training ground and they would turn the site into a state-of-the-art complex for both teams. Wright wants to buy the training ground for Wasps and points out that the rugby club sold their Sudbury ground and cash from the sale went into QPR's coffers.

There will be a special general meeting of Loftus Road plc on 16 May with two items to discuss; Wright's offers to buy Wasps and the training ground.


TELEGRAPH

QPR abandon merger plans

3:21PM BST 08 May 2001

QUEENS PARK RANGERS have ditched proposed plans to merge with Wimbledon due to the club's supporters' overwhelming opposition to the scheme.

It emerged last week that the two London clubs had been in talks about a possible merger, but fans of both sides immediately made their feelings known about the idea.

On Sunday, Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel addressed supporters on the pitch after the Dons' match against Norwich and told them there would be no merger.

And Rangers have now issued a club statement which also rules out any union between the teams. It read: "After serious consideration and talks with supporters, the boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon regarding a possible merger, any further.

"Although the proposal had some financial and theoretical merit, the strength of feeling from supporters to maintain the QPR identity and history was overwhelming, and had it gone ahead would have alienated, perhaps irrevocably, a large section of supporters without whom the club could not survive.


BBC
Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, QPR reject merger plans


Queens Park Rangers have dismissed proposed plans to merge with Wimbledon, after fans overwhelmingly opposed the scheme.

It emerged last week that the two London clubs had been in talks, but fans of both sides immediately made their feelings known about the possible merger.

On Sunday, Wimbledon chairman Charles Koppel addressed supporters on the pitch after the Dons' match against Norwich and told them there would be no merger.

The boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon any further
QPR statement
And Rangers have now issued a club statement which also rules out any union between the teams.

The statement read: "After serious consideration and talks with supporters, the boards of Loftus Road and Queens Park Rangers have decided not to take discussions with Wimbledon regarding a possible merger, any further.

"Although the proposal had some financial and theoretical merit, the strength of feeling from supporters to maintain the QPR identity and history was overwhelming.

"Had it gone ahead would have alienated, perhaps irrevocably, a large section of supporters without whom the club could not survive.

"In addition, the board would like to point out that no talks are being held with Ron Noades and Brentford.

"Discussions however continue with other interested parties and the board together with the administrators are working hard to secure the best deal for the future of the club.



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