QPR… the latest ‘what not to do’ template?

Queens Park Rangers

If Tony Fernandes hadn’t had rough enough introduction to English football, the latest development in the ongoing saga that is Queens Park Rangers will certainly have given him food for thought.

The revelation that the Hoops could face a fine of up to £60m under financial fair-play rules has added to the Loftus Road club’s difficulties, which have been all too numerous under their Malaysian Chairman.

That is not to say that he is personally at fault for these necessarily. His contributions to the club, particularly financially, since he took over in 2011 have been remarkable, if at times a little misguided.

But this latest setback looks set to compound his turbulent tenure in charge, which has seen three managers, a relegation and transfer bill of £77m.

Now lying third in the Championship, the prospect of promotion back to the top flight will be laced with misgivings following the revelation made by the Football League.

This relates largely to the manner in which QPR went about their business last season, where an ill-considered transfer policy saw the purchase of a number of highly-paid stars, many of whom failed to deliver.

It is believed that the club could post losses of around £80m for that term, the ramifications of which are only now becoming truly apparent.

Under financial fair-play rules introduced by the league, clubs will be required to pay a fine of £1 for every pound they lose over £18m during the 2013/14 campaign.

Thus, a similarly grim set of accounts this time next year, would see the Hoops potentially fined £62m, assuming they were promoted to the Premier League. If they weren’t, however, this penalty could be substituted for a transfer embargo.

It’s a difficult state of affairs then, for a club who are to some extent still reeling following their brief stay in the top division.

Manager Harry Redknapp has done well to steady the ship since their acrimonious relegation, which had accusations flying everywhere as to who was to blame for their dismal performances.

Many of the suggested culprits were shipped out over the summer, with players like Bosingwa, Mbia and Granero all moving on, while former boss Mark Hughes has succeeded Tony Pulis at Stoke City.

A number of well-paid players remain however, and it is them who will now be on Fernandes’ mind, as he tries to balance the books and avoid the newly installed financial sanctions.

The chances of such a loss occurring for a second successive season are of course unlikely. Having rid themselves of many drains to their finances and now being in receipt of parachute payments as well, the club may find their accounts make for better reading than they have ever been under their current chairman.

The case serves to provide a message to any potential promotees, of the pitfalls of trying to survive among the country’s elite clubs.

For Rangers, an over-commitment to remaining in the top division, though probably deemed justifiable at the time, has resulted in dissatisfaction and disappointment as well as a number of internal spats which regularly undermined the confidence of fans and players alike.

And the lesson appears to have already been heeded by the latest crop of Championship hopefuls to be inducted into the Premier League.

Crystal Palace, for example, though bottom of the division, have developed a much more sound financial model, which has seen higher-paid players signed to short contracts, thereby budgeting for the very real threat of relegation.

But will QPR’s plight prove to be a time-enduring template as to how not to approach the nation’s best division? I’m afraid only time will tell.

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