QPR chief reveals slow progress on stadium plans
Rangers board identify ‘preferred option’ for site of new ground, but Beard says move is ‘complicated’
QPR chief executive Phil Beard has revealed the club have identified a preferred option for the site of a new stadium, but insists plans for a ground in west London are ‘complicated’.
Rangers this week announced a partnership with architects Populous to design a bespoke training facility at Warren Farm in Ealing, and hope to move there from Harlington in time for the 2014-15 season.
The QPR board remain confident of following that success with the acquisition of a site for the construction of a new ground, but despite having several areas of interest within close proximity to Loftus Road, Beard insisted plans remain at the earliest stage.
“We do have a preferred option, but these things are always slightly more complicated than you would like them to be,” said Beard.
“There are limited sites available to us that are big enough and have the transport links needed to build a new stadium. We are running feasibility studies on several of them.
“There are normally more parties involved so it takes a little longer to get decisions made. I would rather not raise expectations in terms of time and delivery because we are some way yet from knowing what’s going to happen.”
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Despite Loftus Road’s capacity of less than 19,000, Beard believes QPR could fill a stadium of up to 40,000, as they capitalise on the interested created by the signings of globally-renowned players such as Korean star Ji-Sung Park and Brazilian ‘keeper Julio Cesar.
“I don’t think there is a magic number in terms of capacity. If you go about it in the right way, whether it’s 30, 35, 40 or 50,000, you can recreate the atmosphere of Loftus Road,” added the Rangers CEO. “But I think we all know that the magic number is not 18,500.
“It has to be economically viable. I want us to build the fan base over the next few years both domestically and internationally.
“We need to grow our financial revenue significantly in order to compete with other clubs, and to do that we need to find another ground. If we could stay here and increase the revenue then we would. But we made it clear from the start that we would not significantly raise the price of tickets and season tickets. If we stay here, we would ultimately have to do that. You would double or treble the prices and lose a lot of the core fans very quickly.”
Beard added that the primary short-term focus remains on shifting the first-team training set up from Harlington to Warren Farm.
“Having secured Warren Farm, we wanted to work with the best people in the industry to develop a training ground which will benefit not only the first team, but also the academy and the local community,” he added.“Populous are the perfect fit for us.
“Over the summer, a great amount of renovation has taken place at our current training ground at Harlington which has reduced the urgency for us to move to a new site.”
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