Why Tony Fernandes should not build QPR a new stadium

Why Tony Fernandes should not build QPR a new stadium

A long time Queens Park Rangers supporter has written an open letter to club chairman Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (pic), advising against the building of a new 40,000-seater stadium to replace Loftus Road.

Daily Telegraph sports writer Thom Gibbs, who has followed QPR for 23 years, praised the AirAsia boss for his ambition, but urged him to proceed with caution in this endeavour.

"The proposed capacity of the new stadium is 40,000, nearly 4,000 more seats than Tottenham Hotspurs's White Hart Lane," Gibbs said.

"But in the past 50 years, the highest average attendance posted by QPR was 23,850 in the 1975/76 season, when the club finished second in the top flight."

Even when QPR were in the top flight last season, the average attendance was just 17,779, not quite hitting the Loftus Road capacity of 18,360 every week, he said.

To regularly fill a stadium that large, QPR would need to be performing spectacularly above their historic level for a sustained period, Gibbs said.

"No club in English football history has ever transcended its status so violently that it is able to attract more than double its established number of fans in the long term."

What would a cavernous 40,000-capacity ground be like in the wholly possible event that QPR are playing at its current level in the Championship? Cold, quiet and not entirely pleasant, he said.

He advised Fernandes to approach his plans for capacity like he was adding salt to a recipe. Putting too much salt at the beginning will result in something which tastes horrible.

"The likes of Middlesbrough, Derby County, Southampton, Cardiff City, Leicester City, Reading and Coventry City left their traditional homes for new grounds which are flawed and interchangeable.

"The new stadiums of these clubs are only identifiable as their own by the colour of the seats."

Coventry, for example, decided to construct a bigger stadium and in 2005, moved to the Ricoh Arena from Highfield Road.

But now, the club are playing at the Sixfields Stadium, the home ground of Northampton Town, as they were forced to move from the Ricoh Arena due to a rent dispute with the grounds' owners.

Gibbs said: "While Loftus Road is an unsustainable long-term home for QPR, but it is a wonderfully enclosed, intimate and one of the few remaining stadiums in England where a raucous atmosphere can be generated by 13,000 fans.

"To assume that people living next door at the Old Oak development, the site of the proposed stadium, will all want to watch football, or watch QPR, is a bad idea." – December 15, 2013.