The genius of Tony Fernandes?
So Tony Fernandes thinks he added value to the QPR squad in last months transfer frenzy. With a five-year-plan to upgrade facilities and a relegation contingency involving wage cuts and quick sales, Fernandes could either be a genius or another wealthy fool.
Cynics might invoke Portsmouth’s fate. Hiring Harry Redknapp and spending loadsamoney despite being a small club with terrible infrastructure can do that to a narrative. It’s an easy leap to make.
So will history call the Malaysian entrepreneur a genius? Two signings stand out for me, and if QPR manage to stay up this year, it’ll be because of Chris Samba and Loic Remy. Or it’ll be attributed to them anyway, as justification of what everyone I know is calling reckless spending. However, failure could bring catastrophe for Rangers and its overzealous owner.
Samba is a player who could’ve gone to any club in the Premier League, according to Redknapp… but he didn’t, and moreover Rangers paid £12million and a reported £100k per week for his services. On the surface it doesn’t look like a good bit of business, but once you dig a little deeper… it still doesn’t look like good business. You can’t just spend yourself out of trouble; we’re talking about football, not fiscal stimulus. Ask Portsmouth fans. Yes, I said it too.
Then there’s Remy, who promised to be the next best thing in France, only to find himself plagued with a knee injury casting him out of first team contention and out of favour at Olympique de Marseille. With Newcastle offering stiff competition for his signature, it’s believed that Rangers offered a reported £75k weekly contract.
Fernandes makes a good point when he says that “In Rémy’s case we paid £7million for a very good striker who is 24 and has a resell value.” He does have good resell value, great in fact. The worry here is negotiating with a buyer when you’re languishing in the Championship and desperate to ease the wage bill. What happens to his resell value then?
When Redknapp took over at Spurs they were never in fear of dropping down a division. Do you think if Spurs were relegated with an infrastructure as small as QPR’s they’d be able to keep hold of their high-earners to ensure they were sold at the right price? If Rangers are relegated you can expect a fire sale. No owner would pay above market value if he knows that the selling club do not have the infrastructure in place to retain such costly players. But I might be underestimating both the determination and the money of the QPR board.
It’s admirable that the chairman can be so candid and publicly state that he is indeed gambling.
Fernandes has stated that “I’m not in it for one year, I’m investing for the future. I’m investing to build a stadium, to build a training academy, to build a proper business. Of course when you buy a small club you are going to incur some losses at the beginning.”
It seems that failure is something he’s willing to absorb, however it’s hard to take a chairman’s word without a sense of cynicism. I trust chairmen as much as I trust whoever might happen to be elected Prime Minister.
Redknapp’s media acuity has helped to soften the criticism though, and he’s done it time and again. Talking to the press Redknapp bullishly defended the signings of Samba and Remy as if they were low-risk purchases. Apparently, everyone wants a ‘top-four’ caliber player like Samba so Rangers won’t have too much trouble offloading him for a £2million profit at £14million (his words, not mine). Likewise for Remy. But I agree, I think these are not reckless moves; in fact if they pull it off everyone will call Fernandes and Redknapp geniuses. Redknapp is an astute businessman and knows value where he sees it.
He also knows talent. Whilst Rangers can sit back and grab a few points against the big teams, they need to play football when it counts. Samba, without a doubt, makes them dangerous at set pieces and stronger at the back. Remy hasn’t earned a goalscoring reputation for nothing (unfortunatley he’s also gained a reputation for his time on the sidelines, injured). They’ve got the pieces, they just need a little time.