Yesterday the Premier League renewed its television rights deal, with BSkyB and BT, sharing the total of 154 live matches between them (in a 116-38 split). The total paid by the two broadcasters was a staggering ¬£33bn, a rise of more than 70% on the previous arrangement, which was worth ¬£1.773bn.
While Queen’s Park Rangers won’t expect to be featuring in too many of these games, the announcement confirms the sheer value, in purely financial terms, of remaining in the Premier League. With the club set to take its slice of this vast, vast cake, it’s probably fair to speculate on just what Tony Fernandes and co. will choose to do with their new-found (extra) fortune.
They could save it for a rainy day. No wait, that’s boring. It’s much better to splash out on a new player, perhaps Montpellier’s Olivier Giroud ? Pocketing the cash really would be wise, given how many clubs have lived the Premier League “dream” in outer space only to fall back to earth (the nPower Championship). That said, given how much was splashed out in order to keep the R’s in the Premier League, the sudden advent of financial stringency is unlikely.
So with a few sound acquisitions, relegation guaranteed not to be a possibility next year by manager Mark Hughes, and a couple of quid burning a hole in Fernandes’ back pocket, the obvious solution is a brand new stadium. Loftus Road is too small for the Premier League, there is no escaping this. Expansion is impossible, as the ground is hemmed in on all sides by houses and flats.
A ground share has been emphatically ruled out, and rightly so, on the grounds of it being against the wishes of the supporters. While accepting Fulham as temporary residents of Loftus Road some years ago was acceptable given the divisional gap, it simply wouldn’t work with both clubs playing in the top flight.
Chief Executive Phil Beard has emphasised the necessity for any new stadium to be “multi-use”, and able to raise revenue through a variety of means, including concerts and special events. While the spectre of QPR getting their “own Emirates” is very exciting indeed, leaving Loftus Road would be a decision that the club would need to make with the full agreement of the fanbase.
Supporters of the club have for too long had their views disregarded, and so, while for now it may be idle chatter, as long as Rangers don’t repeat the season enjoyed by Wolverhampton Wanderers, expect moves to be made towards a solution to the “stadium problem” during the coming season.
These are exciting times in which to be an R’s fan, exciting times indeed.