by Liam McConville
There is a depressing unease with which I view recent events at Loftus Road. Ever since they were promoted to the top-flight, QPR have been flirting with relegation whilst spending way beyond their means. Now under the guise of media darling, Harry Redknapp, the club are undergoing yet another splurge as they fight desperately against the drop. Relegation would be a disaster for QPR, and could lead them on a long, dark road towards oblivion.
There are several similarities between QPR and the last top-flight club to go into administration, Portsmouth. The 2008 FA Cup winners have plummeted down the divisions and another relegation seems inevitable this season. Both have relatively small grounds and like Pompey when they were in the Premier League, QPR’s wage bill is eye-watering in comparison to their turnover. Ever since Tony Fernandes bought the club in the summer of 2011, they have gone on several spending sprees, each time attempting to rapidly improve the playing squad.
On each instance they have failed, with the bills soaring each time. Whilst Neil Warnock was in charge, the club signed numerous average players such as Jay Bothroyd and Anton Ferdinand. Then in last year’s January window, Fernandes backed his new manager, Mark Hughes. The Welshman brought in a number of players, much more expensive than the summer’s recruitment, Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora led the way.
QPR just about scrambled to survival on the last day, this narrow escape was cue for yet another upheaval of the squad. Rangers made twelve signings, including Esteban Granero and Park Ji-Sung. Perhaps most bafflingly of all they signed both Julio Cesar and Robert Green within days of each other. Green was brought to the club expecting to be number one, and was more surprised than anyone when Cesar arrived just before the window shut. No-one can doubt Cesar’s ability (indeed his performances might even save the club’s season); however signing both shows a blatant lack of planning from the club that borders on negligence.
Despite the spending, QPR endured an abysmal start to the season, Hughes was quickly dispensed with. In one of the least surprising managerial appointment ever, Redknapp took over and has begun to see a turnaround. Redknapp has been handed a rather substantial transfer kitty. QPR blew Newcastle’s offer out of the water for Loic Remy but investment didn’t seem to be coming quick enough for the former Spurs boss.
Redknapp slammed his squad following the humbling defeat to MK Dons, and even made the unusual step of naming two goalkeepers on the bench for the game against Manchester City saying that there weren’t enough players in the squad. A cynic would be inclined to suggest that these moves were made to force Fernandes’s hand in the transfer market. Surprise, surprise today QPR have confirmed they are close to signing Christopher Samba and Peter Crouch amongst others.
This is undoubtedly a huge gamble from QPR; they are spending huge sums of money for a club in their position. The next TV deal kicks in next season, so staying in the league would be hugely lucrative even if it risks financial ruin. They got away with it last season; however they might not be so lucky this time.
The parallels with Portsmouth are obvious, let’s just hope that the end result is different.