QPR announced on Tuesday that that its appeal to an arbitration panel against the English Football League’s Financial Fair Play fine, reported as being as much as £40m, had failed. An appeal by QPR against the arbitration decision is expected.
This fine is far greater than any other fine imposed by the English authorities on any club in England, and has been reported as potentially the largest fine in sport. We note that these FFP regulations have demonstrably affected a number of medium and small clubs while the real big-spenders in football have been free to splash the cash year after year.
QPR is not only a football team but it is also a major contributor to the local community, not least through its Community Trust. It cannot be acceptable to put a football club’s future on the line in pursuit of outdated fair play regulations.
As a supporters’ trust, QPR1st has always campaigned for the club’s owners to act in a financially responsible manner and always to put the club’s security and stability at the forefront of its strategy.
The financial record of QPR has improved markedly since the appointment of Lee Hoos as CEO two years ago. QPR1st want to see this new responsible stewardship of the club’s finances continue, without a disproportionate fine.
In due course, we expect a full account of decisions made by our owners which appear to have led to QPR being in breach of the rules and to fully meet any financial consequences that may result from such decisions. We shall be writing to Mr Fernandes to stress this point.
QPR1st and the LSA met representatives of the club, the police and Millwall fans. Based on current intelligence the police have said that their response will be ‘graduated and proportionate’. There will be no specific escort of Millwall fans to the ground although officers will be stationed at key points. Millwall fans will not be held back at the end of the game.
The club has confirmed that Ellerslie Road will be the only entry/exit point for Millwall fans. At the end of the match they will be directed towards Bloemfontein Road. QPR fans are advised by the police to arrive early and those in Ellersie Road to leave in the direction of Loftus Road.
QPR1st representatives suggested keeping Millwall fans in after the match for a short period to minimise contact between the two sets of fans. It is understood that this option will only be considered if there is trouble on the night prior to the match ending.
We now have the details for this year’s London football charity cycle ride to support the work of Prostate Cancer UK. On 1 September join other London club fans and cycle to all the league grounds in a day, or just some of them. The riders are at Loftus Road early afternoon. Details here: https://prostatecanceruk.org/rlfg17
Last week QPR1st Supporters’ Trust in both a private communication and a public statement called on the club to give travelling supporters a bit of new season – and Christmas – cheer by agreeing to a £25 ticket deal with Ipswich Town for the Boxing Day away fixture. (See Request for £25 away ticket deal for Ipswich )
Away fans are vital to creating a good atmosphere at games. The level of time and money our travelling fans give to the club makes a real difference and the supporters trust are committed to encouraging the club to do whatever it can to make away games as accessible and affordable as possible.
As part of this commitment, we urged QPR to agree the reciprocal deal offered by Ipswich Town which would have limited the cost of away tickets to a maximum of £25. This is something that a sizable (12?) number of other Championship clubs have agreed on with Ipswich. We agree with the Football Supporters Federation that in the absence of a price cap in the championship league such deals offer the best hope of keeping the cost of away tickets down.
The club has now confirmed to us that it will not be participating. According to Lee Hoos, “the running costs of our stadium are substantially different than Ipswich and this price point simply doesn’t work.”
Stephen Dedridge, chair of the supporters trust said: ‘We are extremely disappointed with this decision as it means that QPR supporters travelling to Ipswich on Boxing Day will be paying more for their tickets than the supporters of those twelve other clubs who have agreed to the deal”.
The supporters trust will be pressing the club at the next supporters consultation meeting to explain its decision in more detail. If so many other clubs have found the deal financially viable then we would like to know why this is not the case for our club.
QPR1st Supporters’ Trust is calling on the club to give travelling supporters a bit of new season – and Christmas – cheer by agreeing to a £25 ticket deal with Ipswich Town for the Boxing Day away fixture.
Ipswich is writing to clubs in the Championship suggesting a £25 reciprocal ticket deal for away fans for all its games. Twelve clubs have agreed and QPR1st believes QPR should join them.
The Trust has written to club CEO Lee Hoos asking for a positive response to the Ipswich proposal. Trust chair Stephen Dedridge said: “Away fans are vital to creating a good atmosphere at games. The level of time and money our away fans give to the club makes a real difference and we want the club to do whatever it can to make away games as accessible as possible.”
He said: “Away supporters deserve a decent deal on ticket prices. This would be a good gesture of goodwill to travelling supporters to announce this now, at the beginning of the season, and also helpful for supporters when cash is stretched at Christmas”.
Away ticket prices in the Championship have come under serious scrutiny following the introduction of a league-wide cap of £30 in the Premier League. With many away tickets priced in excess of £30, some even over £40; the Championship is one of the most expensive leagues in the world to follow your team.
Reciprocal deals have been immensely popular among away fans where they have been introduced by some clubs in recent seasons and have made a significant contribution to the uplift in the number of away fans going to games.
Lee Hyde, director of retail operations at Portman Road, is reported to have said: “Supporters travel 1000s of miles every season watching their club so we listened to feedback from both our own fans and those of visiting opposition teams and decided to initiate a price cap.”
Along with countless other supporter organisations across the country we have campaigned for the introduction of a “Twenty’s Plenty” cap on away tickets – a national campaign co-ordinated by the Football Supporters’ Federation.
QPR1st sends its best wishes to Stan Bowles and his family and hope that todays benefit game against Bournemouth will raise a significant contribution towards Stan’s ongoing care.
We know that many of you are going to be at Loftus Road today but we also understand that many are unable to attend for various reasons. If you can’t make it but would still like to contribute you are now able to purchase a virtual ticket for £12 which will get you a PDF version of the programme. Virtual tickets can be purchased via http://www.justforstan.com
Alzheimers is a particularly distressing condition and the entire QPR Family is one with the Bowles family today. Please be considerate of Stan’s condition if you find you are close to him while attending the match as unfamiliar surroundings and people can be stressful and alarming.
We were asked by Hammersmith and Fulham Council if we had any concerns about safety issues at Loftus Road. We asked our members and, as a result, the council’s QPR Safety Advisory Committee will be discussing several issues, and we are raising these directly with the club too.
Issues raised were:
Emergency evacuation arrangements. In parts of the ground it can take some time to leave the stand at the end of a match. As one long-term season ticket holder in the Upper Loft put it: “The time that it takes to exit the ground at a 3pm Saturday fixture (at any time of year) is both ridiculous and potentially dangerous. If it was at night and there was an emergency evacuation needed for a fire or another similar emergency, there is potential for serious injury or, heaven forbid, loss of life.”
The question is: What is the current Fire Strategy and Evacuation Plan for the Loftus Road stand and the stadium as a whole? Has it been reviewed and updated recently with the Stadium Safety Officer and Fire Marshals, together with the London Fire Brigade? We would like to have clarification on the policy for fire drills and what supporters in the stand will be asked to do in a major incident. How often do we have fire drills with the stewards and with a full stadium? Are these a requirement? We can’t remember having one recently.
Security searches. Supporters could not miss the fact that away supporters were able to bring flares into the ground on several occasions last season – including two consecutive games (surely stewards should have been more alert after the first incident). In the current climate the stewards need to be more vigilant.
Stewards and congestion. It has been reported that stewards have a dangerous habit of standing in some stairwells as fans leave. A supporter in F block raised the issue that one steward stands at the top of the stairs and sometimes one stands at the bottom causing a jam. There is the same problem at bottom of stairs exiting on to South Africa Road. They need to be at hand but not actually in the escape route.
Supporters have raised the issue of who employs the stewards. This point was raised: “The club should employ ALL of its own stewards not hire most of them in from a security/logistics company. QPR stewards know the ground inside-out and also know most fans in their area of the stadium by sight (and probably name). In an emergency, these details are very important and could make all the difference to a successful evacuation.
This has been raised before but it would be worth hearing from the club its current view on this issue.
Local authorities are required to have a safety advisory committee with statutory responsibility for safety at each football club in their area. These committees include representatives from the club, the police, various departments of the council, fire service, TfL and others. Last week the council officer who services the Safety Advisory Group for QPR asked if we had any views on safety issues, prior to this week’s meeting of the SAG. Issues identified will now be discussed there.
We also have asked the club to respond directly to the issues and suggested they would make good agenda items for the next Supporters’ Consultation meeting.
Thank you to all supporters who gave us your views. Recent events clearly show that the more we all know about safety procedures the better.