Friday 22 September 2017

Fernandes vows to fight possible £50m fine

Conor Sammon consoles Richard Keogh after Derby County’s defeat by QPR in the Championship promotion play-off final at Wembley. PA WIRE
Conor Sammon consoles Richard Keogh after Derby County’s defeat by QPR in the Championship promotion play-off final at Wembley. PA WIRE

John Percy

QPR owner Tony Fernandes is facing a potential £50m fine as a 'reward' for the club's dramatic promotion to the Premier League.

The Loftus Road club's financial accounts for 2013-14 are expected to reveal that they have driven a gilded horse and cart through the English League's Financial Fair Play regulations.

Had they stayed down that would have meant a transfer embargo; having been promoted, they will be subject to a fine.

Fernandes has pledged to fight the punishment, but, with the club having posted losses of £65.4m in May 2013, he faces a huge task.

QPR were relegated last season with a huge wage bill and a toxic dressing- room after a scattergun approach to the transfer market and Fernandes has admitted that their recruitment policy must improve.

Manager Harry Redknapp will be under instructions to seek younger and hungry players on comparatively lower wages, while the likes of Bobby Zamora and Gary O'Neil are likely to be offloaded or offered deals on less money.

Zamora scored the crucial goal at Wembley, but his £70,000-a-week wages are a substantial drain on finances and Redknapp will adopt a more prudent approach to this summer's transfer window.

Although two veteran players are likely to be top of the club's transfer targets – Rio Ferdinand after his release from Manchester United and Fulham's Scott Parker – Fernandes has vowed to introduce a drastically different strategy from when QPR were last in the top flight.

"We are not perfect," Fernandes said. "We are going to make mistakes. Even the biggest clubs in the world will make mistakes. It would be stupid to say that we will not make mistakes again. But we are wiser and smarter and have the right kind of patrols in place.

LOSSES

"There have been huge losses, but we're going to balance the books, so we've got to make sure that we're not bringing in loads of players."

Meanwhile, Redknapp paid tribute to an unexpected source of leadership as he reflected on his team's dramatic victory.

"When I came here I thought... Joey Barton?" said Redknapp, shaking his head like a car dealer assessing a dodgy motor. "He'd been at Marseilles..."

Barton had loved it in France, where he had been on loan. Terms could not, however, be agreed for a permanent deal and Barton returned to QPR, despite having tweeted he would "never play in the Championship".

Redknapp clearly had reservations about the once-capped, twice-convicted Barton. But he was pleasantly surprised.

"Joey has been a real driving force behind the team. In the dressing-room he is a real inspiring person. I'd never thought I'd say that.

"He is so into his football, such a student of the game, as much as any player I have ever met. He watches every video of every minute of every game, everything we do in training he wants to talk about it. He is management material, absolutely."

Redknapp admitted his team were playing for penalties when QPR stunned Derby with a 90th minute winner, Bobby Zamora clinically punishing a rare error from County's captain, Richard Keogh.

It was a brutal end to Derby's season with Keogh inconsolable at the end.

"We'll get the players together and reflect on what we have achieved," said manager Steve McClaren. "We'll pick ourselves up. I can't say I'm looking forward to pre-season training. But we have to come back again. I've had worse defeats. We have a lot to be proud of. The future looks bright." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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