AirAsia boss vows to fund signings but insists club will be profit-making in long-term
QPR’S new majority shareholder Tony Fernandes has vowed to breathe life into a club he calls a “raw diamond” but warned he will not adopt a Roman Abramovich approach and flood Rangers with cash.
AirAsia chief Fernandes, who yesterday completed his takeover by acquiring 66 per cent of the west Londoners from Formula One tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, has promised Neil Warnock signings this month.
But the Malaysian insists it would be dangerous for QPR to rely on regular injections of his money and is adamant he wants to run the Premier League newcomers as a profit-making venture.
“I think football is a fantastic business if it’s run well. QPR is in a fantastic location and has huge potential to develop into something special,” said Fernandes, whose empire also includes the Lotus F1 team.
“I don’t believe you can run any venture – be it sport or a business – that isn’t profitable. I really believe that. And I think you have to build a proper structure for the business to develop. I’m not saying it’s going to be profitable tomorrow, but that would be the ambition.
“You may have a rich benefactor who’s pouring tons and tons of money into it. But one day they may just decide to turn it off. And then that drug has gone in and the club doesn’t know how to operate without that huge cash.”
English-educated Fernandes, who is worth an estimated £250m, will hand Warnock funds for targets thought to include West Ham midfielder Scott Parker and Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha, although no arrivals are expected before Saturday’s trip to Everton.
He also pledged to consider reducing QPR’s much-criticised ticket prices, which have risen by around 40 per cent in some cases, before the next home game, against Wigan on 27 August. “My view is this is a club for everybody so we have to take account of everyone’s views,” he said.
Fernandes is thought to have spent £35m on the takeover, with Britain’s richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, retaining 33 per cent. Amit Bhatia, who resigned this year, returns as vice-chairman, while former O2 chief executive Phil Beard is to be CEO.