Queens Park Rangers chief executive officer Philip Beard says the Premier League team -- part owned by billionaire steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and AirAsia Bhd (AIRA) CEO Tony Fernandes -- will keep most of its players should the club be relegated this season.
QPR is in danger of moving down to the second-division Championship. With eight games left in its season, the west London team is in the bottom three of the top English league even after spending millions on new talent and replacing its manager mid-season. It’s won just three games and lost seven since Mark Hughes replaced Neil Warnock on Jan. 10.
Fernandes led a group that in August bought a majority 66 percent stake from Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone and his partner Flavio Briatore. Since then the team’s bought eight players including strikers Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora.
“We were very active in the 10 days after the takeover in August and fairly active in January and I’ll stand behind every single one of those contracts irrespective of what happens,” Beard said during a discussion on team finance at the Soccerex conference in Manchester. QPR returned to the top division this season after 16-year absence.
“If we do not stay up, I anticipate the vast majority will stay at QPR to try and help us get back,” he said. “We’ve gone into this with our eyes wide open.”
Mittal is one of the world’s richest men. Unlike other wealthy owners in the Premier League like Roman Abramovich at Chelsea or Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayhan of Manchester City, QPR’s owners haven’t spent lavishly on building their roster. Still, they’ve spent significantly more than Norwich and Swansea, the two other teams promoted last season. Those clubs are 14 points clear of the relegation zone after 30 games.
“Our aim is to find a stabilized position in the Premier League over next few years,” Beard said.
Even though Hughes’s appointment hasn’t led to improved performance, Beard said the team remained committed to the former Manchester City coach.
“I don’t regret at all the decision to change manager,” he said. “We’ve just got to focus on what we are doing and I think in Mark Hughes we have an excellent manager.”
Part of the plan is to build new training facilities and find a new stadium. Beard, who worked with Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group Inc. earlier in his career, said he’d like to use examples learned at the Staples Center, home of basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers and ice hockey’s Los Angeles Kings.
“It has to be an entertainment destination,” he said, saying though he had a preference for teams sharing stadiums, the competitive nature of English soccer meant it probably isn’t an option for QPR.
“I do think there’s a platform where discussions would take place on success and viability of ground-sharing but at the moment that’s very emotional for football fans,” Beard said.
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