Cargiant boss rules out a new QPR stadium by 2018
- Credit: Archant
EXCLUSIVE: QPR will not have a new stadium built in Old Oak by 2018 “in a million Sundays” according to Tony Mendes, managing director of Cargiant.
The car supermarket, who are currently located on the 30-acre site in Willesden, own a further 15 acres in the area and are drawing up plans to redevelop the site themselves.
Mr Mendes has not ruled out working with QPR in the future but, up to this point, the two have not been able to come to an agreement about purchasing the land.
Asked if QPR could build a stadium on the land by 2018, he said: “Not in a million Sundays. It is never going to happen, it is a crazy timeline – they’ve admitted that to us.
“We know that we will potentially be on this site for the next seven to 10 years.
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“The ball is in their court – they can use the Greater London Authority for leverage as much as they like but effectively we are going to be in the GLA’s vision when we bring forward our plans.
“The GLA are not concerned about a new stadium. What they want is someone who is going to develop here very, very quickly so they can have the residential units in place.”
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Mr Mendes explained that contact between the two parties has previously been poor.
“We don’t want to take the club on – we very much have the club in our heart,” he said. “I have supported the club since I was a kid, 1977 was my first game. I went to Christopher Wren School round the corner from the ground, and have been a season ticket holder for years.
“We used to sponsor QPR – we supported the club when it was on its knees.”
In December 2013 QPR released a statement outlining the club’s plans for a new 40,000-seater stadium after they gained support from all the major bodies required – the Greater London Authority (GLA), relevant local authorities, Network Rail and the influential Genesis Housing Group.
Titled ‘New Queens Park’, the plans involve a major regeneration of the area, including up to 24,000 new homes and creating at least 50,000 jobs.
Chairman Tony Fernandes said as recently as July that he was still confident that the club would be in the new stadium by 2018 but Mr Mendes has ruled that out.
He said: “To be offered the kind of money QPR put forward is a non-starter. We paid for the last 10 acres we bought here 10 years ago – we paid £5million an acre.
“It is as if someone tells you that you are leaving your three-bedroom house and we would like it if you could move to a studio flat down the road.
“We have had better offers from other people – substantially better offers, hundreds of millions of pounds better, who are ultimately who they will have to compete with.
“I don’t think they can move anywhere else in the borough. With Unigate and the BBC sites bought, this site now represents their last chance to move and remain in the area.
“It would be great if QPR get a new stadium – it is the logical thing to do. Everyone is doing it, Brentford will be building a new one.
“We are a friend of the club and we don’t want to get into tit for tat but this is a business deal which needs to be done round a table.
“They are using the fans to take cheap shots – we don’t want to play that card.”
Mr Mendes said the plans released by QPR last year sent shockwaves through the company, who have 700 employees, including Les Ferdinand’s aunt.
He added: “That upset a lot of staff here because it was released a couple of weeks before Christmas and they were thinking, ‘ok, what is going to happen with our jobs?’
“That was done so Anthony Spencer, who has been working in partnership with the club, could get his foot in the door here for a meeting.”
Mr Mendes says Mr Spencer, who owns Stadium Capital Development, was unable to find Cargiant an alternative location and talks between the two parties has stopped since QPR made an offer to buy the site which was turned down.
He said: “What we said to QPR was to not make any more noises about us – we would find a site because we know best what we need in a new site.
“We told them that we would find a site as and when we could but as you keep on making noises, what money are you prepared to pay for the site?
“They came up with a figure, which was a derisory figure. I said ‘really? That isn’t even going to pay for relocation costs’.
“They came back with a slightly revised figure but again not something that was going to get us excited.
“We said ‘if that is your best offer why don’t you put it in writing?’ But they said they couldn’t do that.
“I said it doesn’t really constitute a formal offer unless it is put in writing.
“So it is not as if things have ended sour, we just said that we really don’t have anything further to discuss at the moment – this was around May.
“The word posturing has been used a couple of times. Actually we are spending £10million plus on putting forward our plans to the GLA using a company called First Base, so that is some pretty expensive posturing.
“We are dead serious about it – we have got the money to do it and we have got the backing to do it.”
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