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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Malaysia's Tony Fernandes convinced Rangers must move

Queens Park Rangers' new chairman, Tony Fernandes,has admitted that the club's long-term future lies away from their cramped Loftus Road stadium, which has the smallest capacity (18,682) of any Premier League ground.

Fernandes, head of the Team Lotus Formula One outfit and the chief executive of the budget airline AirAsia, became the majority shareholder in QPR on Thursday by buying out his F1 rivals Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore.

He told The Independent on Sunday: "It's in the hands of the [local] council but I don't think there's room for development here. It's early days but of course it would be great to get a bigger stadium and that's certainly in my mind. I'm a big believer that anything's possible if you put your mind to it, so let's see."

Rangers have been at Loftus Road for almost 95 years apart from two brief spells just up the road at the now defunct White City stadium. They would like to stay in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and could make the equally short trip to the nearby BBC Television site if sufficient space was available.

A move has long been discussed. The former chairman Chris Wright spoke of the need for a larger stadium 10 years ago and the club commissioned a feasibility study in 2003, which came to nothing.

Fernandes, whose personal wealth has been estimated at $470 million (£284m), has a number of other priorities, including developing the training ground and academy, although the most urgent one is providing funds for the manager, Neil Warnock, to strengthen his squad before the transfer window closes in 10 days' time.

Despite having seen his first football match at Loftus Road in the late 1970s, when he was living above a kebab shop on the nearby Uxbridge Road, Fernandes became a West Ham supporter because he liked their style of football.

He twice tried to buy the club, incurring the wrath of the owners, David Sullivan and David Gold, in June by announcing on Twitter thathe had made a bid.

"I was receiving so many tweets from [West Ham] fans that I just said I had put an offer in," Fernandes explained. "And then World War 17 happened.

"They said they wanted a billionaire and I was accused of having no money. There was a bit of bitterness, but it's over as far as I'm concerned."

ORIGINAL POST: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/fernandes-convinced-rangers-must-move-2341302.html


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