Inside the back pages of the Daily Mirror dated, 25th February, 1987, Harry Harris wrote exclusively about Terry Venables and his consortium’ s bid to take over at Rangers from Jim Gregory. It would have been interesting to have known who else was behind the bid ?
‘Terry Venables last night revealed how he lost a secret bid for Queen’s Park Rangers. The Barcelona boss was backed by a multi-million pound consortium involving actor, financier and former pop star Adam Faith. But they were beaten by Marler Estates, who have clinched a ¬£5.8 million deal for the West London club. If his bid had succeeded, former Rangers manager Venables would have ended his Spanish exile and made a sensational return as part-owner. Venables planned to turn Loftus Road into a multi-purpose sports stadium with a plastic bubble roof to accommodate tennis, boxing, hockey and pop concerts.
He was staggered when he was told by Rangers Chairman Jim Gregory on Monday that he had been gazumped. El Tel thought he had a great chance of buying out Gregory, and told me yesterday: “Yes I tried to buy the club. It was a dream of mine to own my own football club, and I’d have liked it to have been QPR. It is very sad that it has not come off. But I don’t want to discuss any details. It is far too delicate.”
Gregory chose to accept the offer from Marler Estates, owners of Craven Cottage and Stamford Bridge. But I believe that Gregory would have willingly sold out to Venables for less money, knowing that his “favourite son” in soccer would have continued to make the small club compete with the biggest in the country. But Marler were quicker off the mark than Venables. Gregory told me:”Terry sent over Adam Faith as his representative. But I only saw him once.”However there were prolonged talks between Gregory and Venables about the possibility of a deal. Venables comes to the end of his contract with Barcelona this summer and QPR gave him the opportunity of a spectacular return to England.
Gregory says: “Terry is a person who likes to keep all his options open all the time. I think a lot of him. I’m always talking to Terry. I went to see him in Barcelona a few weeks ago. He spent three and-a-half years at QPR. He took us from the relegation zone to contention for the league, and then got us to the FA Cup Final.” Gregory went on: “Terry should have bought the football club four years ago for ¬£1million. He tried to arrange a consortium. The money was organised, but I believe one or two got cold feet. Had he bought the football team, he would have leased the ground for 64 days a year. Terry would have kept the momentum going and he would have continued to build a very good club.”
The departure of Venables to Spain probably marked the beginning of the end for Gregory. He never wanted Venables to go, but accepted he couldn’t stop him earning a fortune with Barcelona and adding to his credentials to become England manager. Gregory concedes: “It was difficult when Terry left. Of course I couldn’t compete financially with Barcelona. The biggest problem was the upset among the players. Certain of them couldn’t accept another manager for quite a while. It was a problem for Terry’s successor Alan Mullery. I’ve never sacked a manager without a lot of thought, even though I’m really a man of impulse. I sacked Alan after we’d just won a game. But I knew I had to do it long before that game.”
Gregory spent last weekend trying to contact Venables, who had taken his Barcelona team to Las Palmas. He eventually got through just hours before the official announcement of the sell-out. “I rang Terry basically to tell him it was done,” said Gregory. Venables may now decide to stay with Barcelona particularly if they win the championship and compete in the European Cup. However, Italian giants such as Juventus, Inter-Milan and AC Milan are ready to offer a fortune to lure him from Spain.’
As for Adam Faith, he was born at 4, Churchfield Road, Acton and had his first No.1 UK single in 1959 with ‘What Do You Want’. He appeared in films like ‘Stardust’ with David Essex and ‘McVicar’ with Roger Daltrey. Then he entered the world of finance but was later declared bankrupt and died in 2003 aged 62.
So Jim Gregory moved on and the introduction of Marler Estates facilitated a proposed merger with Fulham. Rangers fans quickly organised themselves to fight it. I remember someone turning up at a meeting with bundles of protest leaflets and then jumping on the back of a Council lorry and heading off for Craven Cottage with Trevor Kingham, Tim Upton. Joe Hylton and I think Dave Thomas etc. We later invaded the pitch and the rest is, as they say, history.