It’s been just over six weeks since QPR 1st was launched at Hammersmith Town Hall… but it seems a lifetime ago now for the 15 of us charged with bringing the Trust to fully-fledged status within three calendar months.
The result of where we are up to now, the progress made in that time, the contacts established, and the strategies put in place have resulted from countless phone calls, a dozen committee meetings – but mostly, thanks to a List system, a grand total of… 2,345 related emails as we deliberate (and occasionally argue) the way to take QPR 1st forward. That’s not to mention the phone calls, the emails and the discussions taking place amongst the various sub-groups and those co-opted to them. It’s proven a huge task – a full-time one for all of us really. Not a few of us are running out of goodwill with our bosses!
With the launch of the new, improved website, then, we thought it an appropriate point to inform about progress to date.
We have lines of communication open with Chris Wright, the administrator Ray Hocking and his team, and the Brian Melzack and Milton Keynes consortiums. Our understanding is that no finalised bid has yet been tabled by any party.
We fully understand how this is creating a climate of apprehension amongst the fans, especially when much of the media coverage is speculative or ill-informed. Without being complacent in any shape or form, there is no evidence within the dynamics of the situation at the club as we understand them, and are party to, that makes us believe QPR are in any imminent danger of folding. But we are a pro-active organisation, as well as a reactive one, and QPR 1st is putting in place both short-term contingency plans and a long-term business plan to ensure that the identity and future of the club is protected.
Although unable to prevent the sale of Wasps or the Twyford Avenue training ground to Chris Wright, our intervention at the EGM and subsequent challenging and alteration of the resolutions at least ensures QPR will benefit financially from any future sell-on or change of use of the training ground. As for Loftus Road and QPR, we have been given written and verbal assurances from Chris Wright that he will do everything in his power to ensure that the two are kept as a single entity, and our expectation is that he will fulfil that promise.
One of the pledges of any supporters trust is to utilise the skills and enthusiasm of the fan-base. To date, we have received lots of practical help, practical suggestions and offers of help in the future from right across the QPR support. It is hugely motivating for us. Someone willing to put letters into an envelope plays as big a part in the operation as those willing to donate their professional services. Already we have been able to utilise the skills of fans expert in finance, law and media.
We fully recognise that not all QPR fans have access to the Internet, and we are currently in the process of sending out an interim newsletter to those who have registered without an email address. This website will remain an important method of communicating information, and full use will be made of email updates as well. We are also setting up a dedicated phone line to convey information. This will be done on the cheapest rate service we can find. All members will receive, through the post, a quarterly newsletter as part of their membership.
The website is intended to be inter-active. There are already ways to communicate your ideas, views and opinions to QPR 1st, but in time that will extend to your being able to submit marketing ideas, provide your own ‘scouting’ information (the signing of Hampton’s Leroy Griffiths was as a result of his name being put forward by QPR 1st), and any number of similar initiatives which will draw upon the knowledge of the QPR fan-base – so that in time all fans will be able to play an active part in the running of the club. We will also shortly be adding sections on community, networking, Junior R’s – and much more besides.
Inevitably when vested interest is at stake, we have to contend with disinformation. The best weapon against this is for us to provide regular updated information. There, though, in these early days, those whose agenda is to undermine QPR 1st (and we know who you are) have the advantage. Already, for example, we have seen instances of people using the anonymity of messageboards to spread false and malicious lies. Thankfully, the vast majority of QPR fans are wise enough to see through this type of posting.
Our policy on this is clear. We will take swift and incisive action against anyone whose activity is unlawful. We are currently taking legal action against the individual responsible for a defamatory posting made on the Wasps board, and will have no hesitation in repeating that as often as necessary. We will not allow those with hidden agendas to undermine QPR 1st or any individual within the organisation.
To date we have had well in excess of 2,000 registrations, and that number continues to rise steadily on a daily basis. The draft constitution (all 25 pages of it!) is with the lawyers and once that has been okayed, QPR 1st can be officially ratified as a bona fide Supporters Trust, operating under co-operative principles. That means one member, one vote. It is a time-consuming but necessary process.
In a little while, every registrant will receive through their post a membership form, together with a questionnaire on issues affecting QPR. The cost of membership is yet to be decided.
Fundraising/donations Running any organisation takes money. All committee members, and those co-opted to help, provide their services free of course. For each of us, it’s merely an extension of our support for QPR. But we need funds for running costs, and they will start to increase soon. We are very grateful to those at the Hammersmith Town Hall meeting who contributed to a bucket collection. We have also subsequently received donations from individuals ranging from £10 to £1000. We are very grateful for that backing. If you would like to make a donation to the cause, please see the contact page for address details
We can’t protect the identity and future of QPR entirely on our own. QPR 1st is part of a new fans movement, and we have already established links with other trusts and fan groups. But it goes way beyond that. Networking with local community groups, the local council, local political parties, and the local media has begun in earnest – and the early results are highly encouraging.
Support To date, QPR 1st has received signatured support from MP Clive Soley (who is favourite to be re-elected on Thursday), the four main parliamentary candidates for the borough, and from Mayor Andrew Slaughter. Hammersmith & Fulham Council have been hugely supportive, too. From a PR point of view it is important to have backing from those who have some celebrity status. We are very happy that Les Ferdinand has pledged his support to QPR 1st, as have well-known supporters such as Robert Elms and Michael Nyman. Ian Holloway too has made public his support. We are currently preparing a press pack, and are actively seeking out celebrity backing. If anyone can suggest names, or better still provide contact details, please forward them to email@example.com
The most important support to date, though, has come from QPR fans.