How do you make a small fortune from a football club? Buy a football club.
If at first, QPR Chairman, Tony Fernandes, did not get the joke he certainly does now.
But he’s still not laughing.
More likely, he will want to cry when he sifts through the debris of QPR’s plane crash of a season. And, when he fully realises the damaging impact relegation from the Premier League will have on his club, the Airline tycoon will want to fly as far away as possible from the crisis that has enveloped his stricken Rangers.
He would have escaped the wreckage at Loftus Road long ago if he hadn’t already haemorrhaged £50 million of his own cash on his club where the dark, grey clouds have been gathering for a long time. Stranded at the bottom of the EPL at Christmas, Fernandes, at the behest of Harry Redknapp, resolved to spend big in the January transfer window, in a desperate last throw of the dice to avoid relegation. He soon, however, became the festive turkey whose pockets were taking a stuffing from the unscrupulous agents of Chris Samba and Loic Remy, for whom he paid a combined total of £20.5m. Both players are reported to earn in excess of £100,000 per week, and several other big name ‘stars’ such as, Jose Bosingwa, Julio Cesar and Esteban Granero also have contracts which resemble a king’s ransom.
It is little wonder then that the wage bill has more than doubled to more than £56 million in their two seasons back in the Premier League and the club’s reported a loss of £22.6m as debts continue to spiral, uncontrollably, towards the £90 million mark.
This descent into serious debt has correlated with the team’s rapid descent down the league table, as the club has been hijacked by the overpaid mercenaries – bought to save them from the brink – who were all too happy to pick up their grossly inflated pay packets, whilst playing on auto-pilot all season.
As he oscillated between condemnation of agents, and his disgust at the lack of commitment of some of the players he stated, “I’ve seen all of the parts that make football – maybe immoral is a strong word – but they would sell their grandmother to do something. It’s all part of the football eco system”
“It’s heartbreaking for me when we lose. I don’t want to go out, I just want to stay at home”
“But it hurt me when I saw some of the players who didn’t feel the way I felt.
“And in fact, in their case, it should be worse because this is their job, it’s their life. It was probably the low point for me when I saw the reaction of some of the players”
Of those ‘reactions’, none were as stark as that of the seemingly joyous Bosingwa hysterically laughing as he made his way down the tunnel immediately after his team were relegated!
Harry Redknapp in contrast, definitely wouldn’t have been laughing after hearing his chairman’s comments that QPR may have to the play the ‘long game’ as it could take ‘two or three seasons’ to get back to the Premiership.
Redknapp is a top level football manager, not a financial advisor. And he will regard replenishing the playing squad as a far, far more important priority than preserving his chairman’s fortune.
He stated “I think change is needed. We need to freshen up the squad after a tough season.”
So Tony Fernandes may have to once again ‘exploit’ his own wealth to avoid the plot thickening any further into what he described as the “tragic Shakespearean play in the making” that’s still unfolding at QPR.