Queens Park Rangers chief executive Lee Hoos has reiterated the Championship football team’s need to leave Loftus Road as club owner Tony Fernandes hit out at the local council over claims relating to a potential new stadium.
Hoos has said that Loftus Road, which has a capacity of 18,439, is “unsustainable” for a club of QPR’s size due to its size, age and lack of non-matchday use. The stadium opened in 1904 and was first used by QPR in 1917.
QPR has earmarked the nearby Linford Christie Stadium, which is currently used for athletics, as a potential replacement. The club would look to develop the site on which the stadium sits but it is currently owned by Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
Hoos told QPR’s official website: “Everyone at our club still wants to remain in Hammersmith & Fulham if at all possible. However, we have been very open with our fans and the local community that, in the absence of any alternative, the Linford Christie Stadium is, as far as we can see, our last chance to stay in the borough.
“The council is shortly to launch a public consultation on the future of the Linford Christie site, which we will encourage our fan base, local residents and stakeholders to take part in.
“Ultimately, the council owns the site and if they do not want QPR to be involved in its redevelopment then that is their choice. But we have to be honest with people about the likely consequence of that, which is that QPR’s medium to long-term future will be out of Hammersmith & Fulham.”
The council has accused the club’s owners of “engaging in property speculation” and Fernandes has reacted angrily to the claims.
A spokesman for the council said: “We’ve had many meetings with Tony Fernandes and his team. He’s lobbied us to turn the current QPR stadium into housing and even lobbied us to add in the nearby council homes on Batman Close so he can become one of the biggest developers in White City. We’ve been extremely clear that we will never hand over people’s homes on Batman Close to any developer and cannot give any land away for free.
“If QPR’s owners won’t put their money where their mouth is and invest in the current stadium, we’ve offered to consider other options such as renting other sites. We call on the owners to put the club and its fans first and consider an FC Barcelona-style fan ownership. We love QPR but don’t see it as our business to help QPR’s owners engage in property speculation.”
In response, Fernandes posted on Twitter: “What a horrific and disappointing statement and really unbecoming of a council after all we have done. The council knows very clearly our heart is in the borough and we have tried everything to give our fans a new home and build affordable homes for our fans and community. Shock.
“We are not property developers, never will be and don’t want to be. Just enough to build a new home. No different from any other club that has built a new stadium.”
Image: Matt Churchill