Fans in standing row

SPECIAL REPORT By Andrew McCorkell and Alex Wellman A BITTER row between club and fans has been sparked by comments in a football programme warning crowds not to stand up during games. The offending article in last weekend s Hoops, official programme of

SPECIAL REPORT

By Andrew McCorkell and Alex Wellman

A BITTER row between club and fans has been sparked by comments in a football programme warning crowds not to stand up during games.

The offending article in last weekend's Hoops, official programme of Queen's Park Rangers, said the Championship outfit is coming under 'constant pressure from Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Football League' to stop fans standing in seated areas while matches are being played.


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Supporters have been complaining of a creeping corporate malaise forcing a wedge between themselves and the players amid fears that the Rangers in Loftus Road, White City, are being modelled on arch west London rivals, Chelsea.

Owen James, 35, from Barnet, a life-long QPR fan, said: "If it's not the borough pushing this then the only explanation is that it's part of trying to turn Loftus Road into a corporate hellhole like Stamford Bridge.

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"I don't see what QPR stand to gain unless the fans are the last thing they worry about these days.

"Judging from the way people talk, there is more and more disillusion at the club.

"This is just another part of when they took tickets off fans who had been there for ages and gave them to the corporate sector."

Paul Finney of the Independent R's fan website said: "Not for the first time, it seems like QPR are going out of their way to ensure crowds at Loftus Road are as sparse and as quiet as possible.

"There's the sky-high ticket prices, the lack of communication with fans, over-zealous stewarding, a lack of decent facilities for ordinary supporters - and now this.

"Yet again, the club seem determined to alienate themselves from supporters."

Another fan, who asked not to be named, said he recently saw a steward confronting fans who were singing and dancing at the back of the stadium.

He said: "It seemed a bit unnecessary to have what was a very young steward confronting the old boys who've probably been coming to the game for years."

Fan sites like qprdot.org have been besieged by a wave of angry comments from QPR stalwarts.

One fan, posting as Stowmarket Ranger, said: "When I went to Old Trafford 18 months ago the whole stand opposite the Stretford end stood up for the entire game. How can they get away with it and we can't?"

A QPR spokesman said: 'Supporters standing at football grounds is an on-going problem throughout the country, not just Loftus Road.

"The Football League and the local authority expect all clubs to be pro-active in encouraging spectators to remain seated.

"Our pleas for our spectators to observe these rules are often overlooked, hence that's why we repeat the message throughout the course of the season in various ways."

andrew.mccorkell@archant.co.uk

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk

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