Statement on Stadium Meeting

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust representatives were pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the proposals for the new stadium with the Alan Sendorek, Head of Strategy, QPR Property.

The meeting was a positive step forward in establishing effective dialogue between the club and the supporters’ trust. 

Club CEO Lee Hoos has said there has been a great deal of work going on in relation to proposals for the new stadium. Alan was able to say something about what that work involves.  As well as discussions with the planning authorities, this includes working with education projects and talking to the NHS, among others on how the new stadium could make a real difference to local people. That could mean facilities to support local health services, educational facilities and a wide range of other projects to support local people. 

The club has been looking at, and learning from, how some other football clubs in this country and elsewhere – from Preston North End to Ajax – have been developing ambitious and innovative initiatives, particularly in health and education, to make sure they are a valued part of the community. Working with the community to provide new multifunctional stadium with community and educational facilities would also allow the QPR in the Community Trust to
do even more.  

We strongly support an approach in the club to win over residents in the neighbouring area and the planners by describing how facilities in the new stadium will build on QPR in the Community’s proven track record in delivering on community projects. We think their ideas on community development are important and we would welcome further dialogue with the Club on this matter.

It was made clear to us that it would be a football stadium – not a compromise entertainment venue – but that it would be multifunctional in offering a range of provision for the community.

Separately, it has become clear that there are significant problems for the overall Old Oak regeneration project, as raised by architect Terry Farrell in the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/old-oak-common-regeneration-scheme-risks-being-londons-worst-cockup-in-50-years-a3194581.html

The problems he raises are with the area to the south of where Car Giant wants to develop and where the club hopes to build the stadium, but they affect vital  road links in to that area.  It will be down to the new Mayor of London, to be elected on 5 May, to get the project moving; otherwise progress may be very slow. Both leading candidates have been briefed by the club.

The question of stadium ownership remains an issue and we will continue to press the club for a statement making it clear that this will be the QPR stadium, and the club will not be a mere tenant in a stadium owned by others.

We do not want the club to be a mere tenant in a stadium, and we want this issue to be clarified.  But we also believe a well-managed football stadium, providing services for the local community could be something we could all be proud of.

Both Car Giant and QPR have important land holdings in the regeneration area and the planners and politicians who will make the decisions on what will go on to that land are still there to be influenced.  

We support the club is asking supporters to make their support known to the Old Oak regeneration planners. They explain how here http://www.qpr.co.uk/news/article/qpr-new-stadium-support-form-3000872.aspx 

Those who have already filled in this form are also being asked by the club to send individual comments to the planners on how a QPR stadium can benefit the area. We think their ideas on community development are an important part of this.

Posted in Community, QPR1st

The Clubs Old Oak Stadium Appeal

The club is asking supporters to make their support known to the Old Oak regeneration planners. They explain how here http://www.qpr.co.uk/news/article/qpr-new-stadium-support-form-3000872.aspx  While  QPR 1st Supporters’ Trust continue to have some serious unanswered questions about the new stadium, its actual ownership and QPR’s position at the stadium, we nonetheless urge supporters to show backing for the club’s aim of moving to a new stadium.

 For QPR to prosper in the years to come we need, like so many football clubs in the country, to improve our stadium and to attract more supporters. Sadly, that cannot be achieved at Loftus Road, but may be possible in the Old Oak regeneration area, and so we support the club in proposing this move.  It is well known that Car Giant are well down the road in developing plans for the land they own within the regeneration area.  However, no decisions have been made by the planning authorities on what they want to see at Old Oak, and will not be made for some time. QPR fans therefore have an opportunity to influence the outcome if we make our voices heard

 We therefore believe a move to a new stadium will be in the interests of the club, as long as the stadium is the genuine home ground of the club.  We want the club to be transparent about a major issue; around the ownership and use of what is described as a “multifunctional” stadium. We believe the club should give supporters an unequivocal statement that the football club will in genuine partnership with the supporters be in the driving seat in the design and day to day management of the stadium – putting football first, rather than the cub becoming simply another tenant in a soulless entertainment centre

Posted in Community, QPR1st

Supporters’ consultation committee minutes published

We welcome the club breaking its silence over plans for a new stadium at last week’s supporter consultation meeting. We hope this is a start to more regular and more detailed discussion on the proposals as the planning process for Old Oak develops.

The statement made during the meeting that the “stadium and all associated property development sits outside the club” again raises again the issue of ownership of a new stadium. We will be seeking assurances that the football club will maintain full control over a new stadium.

We oppose any big increases in ticket prices. We welcome the statement by chief executive Lee Hoos that he is happy to do more to “explain the business side of football” if this includes more information on the club’s plans for ticket prices in the future, and exactly why the club believes they should increase.

Minutes of the meeting are here

http://www.qpr.co.uk/news/article/qpr-fans-consultation-minutes-march-2016-2989016.aspx

Posted in Boardroom, QPR1st

We ask; what’s the future for ticket prices at Loftus Road?

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust is asking the club to clarify season ticket arrangements, and plans for the future following a statement by club co-chairman Tony Fernandes that the publicised 30 per cent increase in season ticket prices will not take place.

 The statement came in a wide-ranging interview with Clive Whittingham, published on Loft for Words last week.

 We would welcome a U-turn on such a punitive increase, but supporters need clarity on the club’s plans – is a steep increase on the cards for future seasons?

 Ticket prices

Tony Fernandes says the season ticket price increase will not be 30 per cent once the loyalty window closes, but the QPR website today continues to say “General sale prices will not be released until after this season ends, and will be a minimum of 30% higher than the prices listed in the Renewal Loyalty Window.”

The immediate issue is that supporters cannot make informed decisions on when to buy season tickets if they are not told how much they will cost after the window.  We urge the club to clarify this as a matter of urgency. Even the most profit-motivated supermarket has to show the usual full price when they make claims about price reductions.

He says the fans consultative committee (meeting on Wednesday) will discuss “this year’s policy and we’re looking at ways of easing the burden.”  But, the issue is not just one for this year’s policy. Presumably the increase for 17/18 will form the basis for ticket prices in 18/19.

We will be asking what the policy is going forward. How will the club be deciding how big the price rise will be? What percentage of income do they see coming from the tickets in future years?  The club must have figures in mind – will they tell us what they are and why?  We are asking for the transparency that Tony Fernandes has promised in the interview.

The need to ask these questions is given more urgency given that the co-chairman said both that he wants to reduce ticket prices, but also that ticket revenue was likely to become “vitally important”;  “We have to change the mindset, ticket revenue could become extremely important to us”, “A lot of QPR’s problems stem from owners having to pump money in constantly, because we can’t generate enough money from Loftus Road”, he said.

Communication

We welcome the co-chairman’s comment in the interview that “it’s best to be transparent” and we hope that translates into the club sharing concrete information about its plans for the future.

We believe the co-chairman should have a change of heart when it comes to taking part in fans’ forums. He was critical of these – saying these only reached “40 or 50 people”. In fact, there may be that number in the room but the forums are watched by a much larger group of supporters through the website either live or later. As chairman Tony Fernandes last took part in a fans’ forum in May 2014, a successful event where he was seen to be listening to and responding to questions from supporters. It’s a great opportunity for him to communicate.

Finances and infrastructure

Also welcome are the co-chairman’s comments  that the club is working towards living within its means, that progress is being made on a new training ground and stadium, on improvements to scouting and youth development, and we hope further progress is made on these. 

 Thanks go to Clive Whittingham and Loft for Words for the interview, which can be found here:

www.fansnetwork.co.uk/football/queensparkrangers/news/42132/

Posted in Boardroom, QPR1st

Football supporters make a difference

Congratulations to Liverpool supporters for their campaign which has led to a u-turn by the club’s owners with a two-year freeze on Anfield ticket prices – and to the Football Supporters Federation which successfully called for an increase in the number of FA Cup final ticket going to supporters of the competing teams.

Both cases showed that concerted action by football supporters can influence clubs and governing bodies.

Liverpool ticket price freeze

The Liverpool campaign shows what can be done by football fans at a club when they come together in their different groups and as individuals, working to right a wrong. The success was built on a campaign and protests against high ticket prices which have been ongoing for many months. It culminated in the 77th minute walk-out by 10,000 supporters following the announcement of next year’s ticket prices.

We believe clubs, to thrive in the long-term, must have deep links into their communities and ordinary local people must not be priced out of live football.

7,000 more tickets for fans in the Cup final

The FA has agreed to increase the number of FA Cup final tickets given to fans of competing finalists by 7,000.

This follows a campaign by supporter organisations led by the FSF. Last month the FSF wrote to the FA in a letter signed by more than 90 fan groups – including QPR1st – calling on the governing body to increase the number of FA Cup final tickets for fans of the two competing finalists.

Previously, only 25,000 of Wembley’s 90,000 seats were given to each competing team. This will now increase to 28,732 – an overall increase from 71% to 80% of available tickets.

See more on the FSF action at: http://www.fsf.org.uk/latest-news/view/fsf-fa-cup-final-ticket-campaign-secures-7000-extra-tickets-for-fans#sthash.YlkhYRPv.dpuf

Posted in Community, QPR1st

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust thanks Amit Bhatia for his work as chairman of the Community Trust.

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust thanks Amit Bhatia for his work as chairman of the Community Trust.

His decision to step down as chairman of QPR in the Community Trust comes after seven years in that role. Under his chairmanship the Community Trust was placed on firm foundations, becoming a registered charity, and has thrived as an organisation developing innovative and wide-ranging projects making a making a real difference to people’s lives in the community.

We hope his successor continues with effective support for the Community Trust and its hardworking staff.

Amit is also vice-chairman of QPR, and has been influential in this role at various times in recent years. His stepping down from the community Trust has inevitably sparked rumours about his future with the club. We hope this will be clarified as soon as possible.

The club statement is at http://www.qpr.co.uk/news/article/qpr-amit-bhatia-qpr-in-the-community-trust-2946866.aspx#dkRZ8pcrBkZoDT3O.99

Posted in Boardroom, QPR1st

QPR1st says the club should break its silence on new stadium plans

Eight weeks of consultation on a “local plan” for Old Oak – where QPR has said it wants to build a new stadium – has started.

The consultation, by the planning authority for the area – the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation – is on a plan that provides the blueprint for those who want to put forward planning applications. The plan will not be finally agreed until Spring 2017.

However, the chair of the development corporation has announced that five planning “pre-applications” are already with the Development Corporation – including one from Car Giant.

Another  public consultation is underway on plans for housing on a nearby pocket of land. These plans have been drawn up by QPR Holdings, Genesis Housing and Stadium Capital Development.

And, of course, Car Giant are consulting on their plans for the area.

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust believes that, with so much going on, there can be no justification for the club remaining silent on its plans for a new stadium. Most fans are supportive of efforts to build a new stadium – but without any information from the club coming doubts are bound to grow.

Supporters will understand if the original proposals, announced in December 2013 have had to be changed, or if other options are now under consideration. Clearly, the timescale must now be radically different.

The Development Corporation view

At a meeting of the Greater London Assembly Regeneration Committee on Tuesday development corporation chairman Sir Edward Lister and chief executive Victoria Hills said their immediate focus was on acquiring publicly-owned land and they will work on an infrastructure strategy (transport, utilities, schools and health services) until 2018/19.

Lister said development can go ahead whether HS2 is approved or not (originally the development was to be centred around the HS2 station) because there will still be a Crossrail station. 

Another observation was that one option being looked at would be a deck across the top of the Crossrail depot.  This would be next to the pocket of land QPR holdings want to develop. We wonder if the deck would be big enough for a stadium. The club may know.

The draft local plan from the development corporation published yesterday does not make direct reference to a football stadium, but it does say that Old Oak South – south of the canal and close to the proposed Crossrail station – could have a potential “catalyst use”, which means a landmark development. A football stadium would be just such a catalyst.

Significantly, the area north of the canal, largely owned by Car Giant is earmarked for housing and small and medium enterprises rather than a larger-scale catalyst.

Most of the area around the station will be developed after 2026. We do not know if some of the land will be open for development before then. The club may know.

Further information

Meetings are taking place as part of these consultations.

More information and meeting dates on the development corporation consultation, which continues until 31 March, is here https://opdc.commonplace.is

More information and meeting dates on the current Car Giant consultation on its plans is here http://www.oldoakpark.co.uk

Information and meeting dates on the QPR holdings proposal for new housing at Old Oak Lane is here http://www.oaklandsregeneration.co.uk/index.html

The official QPR website section on the new stadium was last updated on 22 April 2015.

Posted in Community, QPR1st

Alan Barnes

We understand that long time QPR supporter and LSA member Alan Barnes was involved in an accident involving a collision with a car this evening prior to the game in Nottingham. We would like to thank the paramedic who attended the accident and tended to Alan before the Ambulance arrived. We have heard that Alan was taken to hospital in Nottingham and has sustained serious injury but is no longer on the danger list. We wish Alan a full and speedy recovery.

Posted in Community

Campaign for openness on West Ham Olympic Stadium deal

QPR1st supports the campaign coalition of supporter trusts calling for the deal for West Ham to use the Olympic stadium to be made public.  As West Ham and the London Legacy Development Corporation are reported as  disagreeing over the meaning of the agreement this seems more important than ever.

After a Freedom of Information request the Information Commissioner said the deal should be made public but the London Legacy Development Corporation has appealed against that decision and a tribunal started to consider the issue yesterday. This began but was adjourned in the afternoon and will continue at a later date, yet to be confirmed. 

 A statement from the campaign coalition of supporter trusts is here:

 “We note no decision has been reached today in the London Legacy Development Corporation appeal against the Information Commissioner’s ICO ruling that the financial terms of the LLDC contract for the use of the Olympic Stadium by West Ham United should be published in full.

“We trust the Tribunal committee will reconvene the hearing at the earliest possible opportunity, and conclude a process which has now cost the taxpayer £21,000 in appeal costs accumulated by the LLDC alone.

 “During the two hour open session this morning, we heard nothing to persuade us that revealing the contract in full would, indeed, impact on the stadium operators’ ability to secure competitive arrangements with other potential users, which now forms the backbone of the LLDC argument. This is a marked change from the LLDC’s original argument that disclosure would mainly negatively impact on West Ham United itself.

 “We also note that no representative from stadium operators Vinci, anyone from E20 (the partnership between the LLDC and London Borough of Newham), and significantly, West Ham United or any other potential or existing user was represented at today’s session. This leads us to question the fundamental assertion from the LLDC that the disclosure of financial material could be commercially damaging.

“We remain determined to see full publication of the financial terms of the contract. This is about ensuring public money is used well and that it is not used to give one club a financial advantage over others.”

 A report from a journalist attending the hearing is here

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jan/25/west-ham-face-possibility-of-groundsharing-at-olympic-stadium

Posted in Community, QPR1st

Government report says supporters should get a bigger say in their football clubs

QPR1st Supporters’ Trust has welcomed recommendations from a Government Expert Working Group to give football supporters a bigger say in their clubs.

The report says “Supporter engagement… means dialogue between a football club and its fans, ensuring that the views of the fans – the lifeblood of any football club – are listened to, and acted upon.”

The report’s launch yesterday at AFC Wimbledon, the League 2 club formed and owned by its supporters’ trust, was attended by Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and representatives of Supporters’ Direct, the Football Supporters’ Federation, the FA, Premier League and Football League.

We welcome the report’s recommendation that regular meetings should “give supporters visibility of the strategic direction of their football clubs, and regular opportunities to discuss the issues which matter to supporters… This will include a commitment to meeting a representative group of supporters at least twice a year to discuss strategic / major issues.”

QPR1st believes the club has made progress in recent months with the creation of the fans’ consultative committee and the chief executive’s willingness to speak at a fans forum.  In line with the report’s recommendation we think this should be taken further with on-going structured discussions with supporters on the club’s strategy for the future – not limited to operational issues.

We fully support the report when it says; “This structured dialogue can help facilitate a partnership approach between a club and its supporters, recognising that supporters care about the strategic direction of the club as well as operational issues and the match day experience.”

We also strongly support a recommendation that the FA should consider how best it engages with representative supporter groups within its decision-making structures.

The report noted that there was only one supporter representative on the current 123 person FA Council.

 

What they said about the report

At the report’s launch Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said;  “Supporters are the lifeblood of the clubs they support but over time there has been a growing disconnect between them and those that run their clubs. So it was right that government set up this group and brought the football authorities and supporters together to see what more can be done for clubs to engage with fans.

“The agreement to have meaningful dialogue between clubs and supporters on issues that matter to them, which can include strategic and ownership related issues, is a big step forward.

Supporters Direct chair Brian Burgess said; “This report has the potential to mark the start of a new era of structured meaningful dialogue between clubs and Trusts, supported by changes which will lead to more opportunities for supporter ownership. Implemented correctly it can be a welcome step forward in a long-term process of reform, helping to reconnect clubs with their communities.”

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the Football Supporters Federation, said; “A report, endorsed by the football authorities, that requires clubs to listen to supporters on strategic issues including finance, governance and ownership, has to be a step in the right direction.

“All too often, crucial club decisions have been taken over the heads of fans, with the real financial and strategic position of clubs shrouded in mystery.

“Fans aren’t only concerned with facilities and team performance; we also care deeply about the ownership, governance and strategic direction of the clubs we support.”

 

Further information

Other recommendations made by the Expert Working Group include:

– In the event of a club becoming insolvent, administrators would be required to meet with Supporters Trusts, with a credible Trust given an opportunity to bid for the club

– Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters Federation to develop a database of suitable professional experts who are football fans who would be willing to provide pro-bono advice to supporters’ bids

– The football authorities agreed to keep the Owners and Directors Test under constant review and will take into account any feedback received from the supporter organisations through structured dialogue to ensure it achieves its intended purpose at all times.

– Any planned substantial changes to club colours or crests to be discussed with fans as part of the structured engagement.

–  The FA to assess how to best engage with representative supporter groups within its decision making structures as part of its current review process

See more at: http://www.supporters-direct.org/news-article/more-opportunities-for-supporter-ownership-involvement-and-engagement-in-football

Posted in Boardroom, Community

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