It’s right there in a sea of incorrect capital letters after “CEO of AirAsia,
Founder of Tune Group, Principal of Caterham F1 Team, Chairman of
These dreams are increasingly difficult to differentiate from reality.
Including loans, QPR have brought in 15 players in the year since Fernandes’ arrival. Some or all of Ricardo Carvalho, Michael Dawson, Jermain Defoe, Julio Cesar, and Kaka are expected to arrive before Sept 1. (Ok, perhaps not Kaka, but he would fit the profile identified by QPR’s scouting network, which appears to be a copy of Football Manager 2008). Planning permission is secured for an urgently needed new training ground. Wild plans are progressing for a not-needed 45,000-capacity stadium.
Fernandes, like Leeds United’s Peter Ridsdale before him, is living the dream. It is not quite the wildly wasteful Seth Johnson model popularised at Elland Road, given the frightening wealth of QPR’s 33 per cent-owner Lakshmi Mittal, and that Fernandes and vice-chairman Amit Bhatia speak sensibly about the club. But actions speak louder than words and, in football, there are few more vociferous actions than signing an entirely new squad of ageing players in 12 months.
Loftus Road is decrepit, but supporters are correctly concerned about the mooted capacity for a new ground. Clubs can overachieve for sustained periods under talented management and with an exceptional group of players or a powerful club-wide philosophy. What is basically unheard of is a club entirely transcending its status in the long term.
There is perhaps an ingrained British suspicion of class mobility at work here, the ancestral hangover that meekly warns that one must not aspire to be more than one is. There is also reality informed by years of precedents. This season’s QPR has a strong whiff of past expensive failures: the Middlesbrough team of Ravanelli, Juninho and Emerson that were relegated from the top flight in 1997, or the West Ham side that suffered the same fate in 2003 despite Carrick, Di Canio, Defoe and Joe Cole.
With every new signing, there’s an increasingly noisy question from some corners of the QPR support: where does it all end? The answer? Usually in tears.
In a past life as a construction industry journalist, I interviewed a Portsmouth board member about a planned move to an exciting new stadium. That venue now resides in the netherworld of unrealised artist’s impressions. Portsmouth are in the all-too-real netherworld that is League One.
I asked him: “You’ve doing incredibly well at the moment, but lots of clubs have good spells under good managers. What happens if Harry Redknapp leaves?”
A slightly blank look. A pause for thought. A considered reply: “That is not a part of our business plan.”
Football is not business. If it was, it would have been wound up long ago or smaller clubs would have been swallowed up by five or six giants like so many independent High Street retailers.
The Portsmouth director’s lack of foresight and the culture of optimistic PR speak around QPR excludes the possibility of failure. Fernandes is dreaming big, and QPR supporters should be grateful for his dedication. They would perhaps feel a little more comfortable if his club stopped behaving like they were inside a video game.