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Special report: QPR’s grand plan to get back in to the Premier League


F

or Premier League-centric ­supporters, Queens Park Rangers are still best remembered for one of ­English football’s most reckless and heady periods of spending.

After winning promotion in May 2011, QPR signed more than 30 big-name players over the next 18 months, including four Champions League winners in Julio Cesar, Jose Bosingwa, Park Ji-sung and Djibril Cisse.

They were relegated after two years in the top flight but bounced straight back for the 2014-15 campaign, again spending big, only to finish dead last for the second time in three seasons.

In a four-year period, QPR splashed out more than £100million and inflated their wage-bill to nearly double the club’s turnover, proving a memorable example of how not to buy success.

“The best way to describe it? The wild, wild west,” laughs Les Ferdinand, QPR’s director of football.

Les Ferdinand

/ Getty Images

The club are still counting the cost of their extravagance, having agreed a £42m settlement with the EFL in 2018 for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, to be paid over a decade.

“That’s how we thought you brought success to a football club,” says QPR chairman Amit Bhatia, who has been there since 2007. “We paid those expensive transfer fees, we signed big-name players on large wages. And we failed. Of course, it was exciting. Was it correct? No. There was a period where we lost our way.”

For all the thrills, there was a sense that QPR had fundamentally strayed from the values of a community club with a proud record of developing players.

“It just didn’t seem like the club I knew,” says Ferdinand, who played for the Rs and was tasked with changing the approach when he returned in 2015.

After six seasons scrapping in the Championship, QPR are beginning to cautiously eye the promised land of the Premier League again. Mark Warburton’s side have made an encouraging start and Saturday’s short trip to promotion favourites Fulham should provide an early test of their top-six credentials.

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