Over the weekend, QPR 1st has been in direct contact with David Thorne re his potential involvementwith QPR. We also have asked David Davies to comment from a QPR board perspective, but are yet to hear back from him.
David Thorne has been very approachable and said he would answer our questions to the best of his abilities.
Below are our questions and his answers reproduced verbatim. We thank him for this candour and look forward to meeting him in early July when he is next in this country.
David has offered to answer further or follow-up questions, but has requested that they are channelled through a single source. We are happy to facilitate this. Please forward your questions to us at email@example.com in an e-mail entitled “Thorne questions”. We will collate and forward onto David Thorne.
As usual, the publication of communications by potential investors in QPR should neither be interpreted as an endorsement nor a criticism by QPR 1st.
Q1, What the business background of yourself and any associates are.
This is a personal investment for me.
An overall synopsis is a s follows:
Was a good athlete when younger, not that you would guess so now. . Ran 400 meters but should have really run 800/1500 but was too lazy. Had a chance at 1980 Moscow Olympics but New Zealand boycotted because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Was obviously disillusioned by this. Went back to soccer. Couldn’t decide between running and football and ended up with neither. Apart from playing, I have also coached and have been a qualified referee. Now I like to watch!
Educationally went to a private (your public school) and read Business, Philosophy and Politics at University. University Blue for Athletics and Soccer.
Administratively have been President of University Sports Council and held a number of positions on sports committees/boards, and have experience in staging large scale events, concerts etc.
Have worked for the past twenty years in Marketing, IT, Tourism and Property sectors.
Company is just a small private company with some property investments, and interests in an Australian national ISP. I also do some business consulting and seminar work for a property investment company and mortgage lender.
My intention is to move away from this into fulltime on football concentrating on Marketing Sponsorship and arranging matches. Have a FIFA Match Agent application pending with FIFA.
With reference to your previous questions re origin of funds regarding previous suitors, I have no criminal convictions.
My partner and I live just outside Brisbane in Australia.
Q2, What turnover and profit did your businesses generate in the last year?
Sorry, this is commercially sensitive and not relevant.
Q3, How your deal is structured
Essentially it is an equity investment. The investment itself is phased over twelve months, however it has been agreed to inject the full value of the investment from day one. Accordingly the balance of the advance is by way of loan that is decreased by at each predetermined date, by an increase in equity.
This path has been chosen for a couple of reasons. It provides an ‘engagement period’ where both parties can determine that they can work well together rather than just ‘jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire’.
For me it provides some security for my investment while we get things on track.
Finally it gives the club some leeway and funds to plan for this and forthcoming seasons.
I would like to state that the recently reported terms of this arrangement are erroneous and not substantive. While the terms are confidential, they are significantly better for QPR than as reported.
Q4, Which (QPR Nominee/ Chris Wright/ Other) shares you are interested in and how many.
It is up to the club to distribute/allocate shares as best suits the club. It does not matter to me where they come from, though obviously both I and the Club would prefer the funds to be going to the club, rather than to purchase third party shares.
I have not spoken top Chris Wright but if a future opportunity arises to purchase those shares, that may be an option.
Q5, What your ambitions for the club are
The first goal is promotion to Division One. This is imperative for the forthcoming season, not an option. While the result in Cardiff was disappointing the atmosphere was great. We owe the fans for their support and sticking with the club through tough times.
Secondly we need to consolidate in Division One before a strong push back to the Premiership.
Once back in the Premiership we must stay there. Then it is to be the best team in London and possibly European football. That itself will create its own headaches once we are there.
Q6, What specific role you envisage you and/or your associates taking in the club
That is up to the club. Clearly I believe I have something to offer, but my direct involvement is not a condition of the deal. If the club wants assistance and I can give it, I will be happy to respond to any invitation to do so.
I can say that I have a good working relationship with David Davies and believe we both have strengths that complement each other.
Q7, Whether you seek to get ultimate control of the club
No. QPR belongs to the fans.
I will hold 29.9% of the QPR shares, which will be the largest single shareholding, but I can be blocked. This will allow a for a spread of smaller investors to be involved, rather than a single dominant party.
Q8, you see the current board fitting into your plans
I have publicly expressed the view that I wish the current Chairmen and the Chief Exec to remain in the current positions. This is an investment condition. If invited, I would be pleased to contribute at Board Level.
My dealings with all the board members and staff have been very good. I guess we all get a little frustrated at the speed, or lack of it, that it sometimes takes to get things down. Add to that different countries and legal issues, things can get complicated, but it is important to get things right.
For me, I come from the outside and don’t bring any baggage. Obviously there is frustration at the fan level, they have seen the demise of a great club and that is understandable. What I can say, objectively, is that the current board and management team have done a very good job in difficult circumstances and the results of that work should be seen on the field this season.
Q9, What role you see as suitable for the fans in the running of the club
I previously said that QPR belongs to the Fans and that is true. All egos need to be checked at the door as the club is bigger than any of us.
Obviously fan feedback is important and comes in many forms including QPR 1st, both formally and informally. There are mechanisms in place for anybody to have input into the club, from buying tickets, to writing letters, to employment, to standing for official positions. I do not see any fan being denied access to any of these opportunities. How qualified they are to perform these task is a different question.
Q10, Whether you would be open to fan representation at board-level
I am not aware of any impediment stopping a fan/fans representative from standing for a board position.
If you are asking me should any particular interest group have an automatic right to participation at board level, that sounds like discrimination and the answer to that is no.
Q11, What extras or synergies your organisation can bring to QPR
Any investment in Australian Soccer is not logical given the current political situation with Soccer Australia and New Zealand is too small. Therefore to invest one has to look offshore.
The question is not just one of direct investment, but also one of how I can best help develop football in my part of the world. To that end to create a bridge for players and perhaps to be able to offer a European home ground for New Zealand Soccer and Soccer Australia has a lot of appeal. The reality for us is that most of our international players are now based in Europe and the US, and for us to play internationals it is easier to take the games off shore than to try and bring teams down under. Also it should let us tap into the large ex pat base in London.
You may recall Australia beat two different England sides in one match earlier this year. We need to have more games for both countries to strengthen our game.
The value for the club apart from revenue from Internationals is the opportunity to attract additional supporters and sponsors to the club, and possible access to a pool of players. The question then becomes why QPR?
Firstly, the club is in London, which is important for the previous answers.
Secondly QPR has great brand recognition internationally. Certainly the club has been through turbulent times recently but the current board and management have made some hard, if unpopular decisions, necessary to ensure the long- term viability of the club. With that restructuring in place it can only move forward.
I would draw a comparison to what Liverpool and Manchester United went through in the 70’s.
Q12, What business plan you have for QPR over the next 5 years. Specifically how you propose that the club deals with any debt and/or future projected trading losses that it might have.
That is being developed now. As for losses, the company must trade solvently for both legal and investment reasons.
Q13, If you have any views on the emotive subjects of ground-sharing and ownership of Loftus Road.
The sums indicate that the ground-sharing with Fulham is working and that the extra revenue is welcome. The days of having an underutilised facility are gone. If you look at Manchester United, they have bars, restaurants, conferences continually generating revenue. Stadiums are becoming multi purpose facilities and we must ultimately follow.
I have no specific views on where this will lead, only that QPR remains the owner of the facility and any share arrangement is a sublet to the third party.