Flavio and Bernie couldn’t care less about QPR fans
There can’t be many neutral football fans who felt anything but delighted when AFC Wimbledon won promotion to the Football League.
It was a triumph for Dons supporters, who refused to roll over when their club was commandeered by money men and literally snatched away from them.
Instead, the proud guardians of their club’s heritage determined to rebuild Wimbledon from scratch and, in less than a decade, have ensured that the ‘real’ Dons will again figure on the League’s fixture list.
For the first time in 15 years, QPR will not be among the Football League’s membership. They are back in the Premier League – something that should be cause for great celebration.
Yet is there actually much for Rs fans to celebrate right now? Like Wimbledon fans before them, they are learning how it feels to have their club taken away.
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Unlike Wimbledon, Rangers have not – as yet – been physically transferred to another city but, make no mistake, Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone would quite readily do that if it suited them.
Whether supporters like it or not is utterly irrelevant to this pair. They have consistently displayed at best indifference and more often total contempt towards QPR fans ever since they arrived in 2007.
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That is why there were no consultations with supporters’ groups before the decision to go ahead with outrageous ticket price rises. That is why fans’ forums have remained a relic of the past.
They don’t care. They never did.
Briatore and Ecclestone have only ever had one ambition for QPR – using it as a vehicle for corporate crowing and boasting, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Roman Abramovich, Malcolm Glazer and Mohamed Al-Fayed.
Now they finally have the chance to indulge themselves – although let’s not forget that, for two and a half years, they made a total pig’s ear of it, leaving a trail of sacked managers, sub-standard players and embarrassing public relations disasters in their wake.
Only when the pair adopted a low profile, allowing Amit Bhatia and Ishan Saksena to take centre stage and make the astute decision to recruit Neil Warnock as manager – did QPR begin to enjoy success on the pitch.
Now Bhatia – a man who genuinely wanted to engage with supporters and threw his backing behind the work of the QPR Community Trust – has gone and Saksena, bizarrely, seems to have been the scapegoat for the Alejandro Faurlin fiasco.
Meanwhile, the real culprit, chairman Gianni Paladini, remains safely in his position, and will presumably continue to oversee player recruitment in a way that has already caused several disasters for the club.
As for Warnock, even if he survives the summer, his position is enormously weakened by the departures of Bhatia and Saksena. It is easy to envisage a situation in which Rangers suffer a couple of heavy defeats and the manager finds himself walking the plank.
According to the risible propaganda churned out by the QPR website, Briatore and Ecclestone saved the club – and the implication is that therefore they have the right to do whatever they wish with it, with no duty of care.
Many now realise that, far from saving QPR, this self-serving duo have in fact ruined the club.
I am one of those fans. I have supported Rangers since the age of six, held a season ticket in the Upper Loft and experienced the rare highs and numerous lows with thousands of others.
The Easter massacre of Chelsea, the Milk Cup final, relegation from the Premier League, the FA Cup exit to Vauxhall Motors, the 2003 play-off final and the joy of promotion at Hillsborough.
And, although I have viewed more games from the press box than the paid seats in recent years, it is still a very painful wrench to admit that I no longer want anything more to do with ‘my’ club.
I do not wish to set foot inside Loftus Road while Briatore and Ecclestone remain in control and I will not purchase club merchandise or anything else to further swell their already bulging wallets.
Oh, to be a Wimbledon fan…